A friend who took pains to stay grounded
The possession of money, property, power and good health are all established parameters of success in this materialistic world. Yet there would be a few who would not let success go to the head. Raj Kumar writes.punjab Updated: Sep 27, 2013 09:29 IST
The possession of money, property, power and good health are all established parameters of success in this materialistic world. Yet there would be a few who would not let success go to the head.
One such fellow was Niranjan Singh, my college mate. A smart, healthy and tall personality, he was a man of few words. Just because we joined the college on the same day, we got acquainted with each other. Our subsequent meetings during classes were enough to lead to our friendship blossoming.
He would come to college by a bicycle and would be soberly dressed. No expensive brands or gear. Nobody could ever guess that he came from a well-off family going by his simple lifestyle. Once he invited me over to a family function. I was in awe of his palatial house and the elite gathering of industrialists, bureaucrats and politicians. This raised my appetite for exploring the reason behind how he managed to maintain a simple lifestyle in spite of coming from a rich family.
Mustering up courage, I tossed the question to him a few days later. He asked me to wait for some time for a reply. After a week, he asked me to accompany him to a hospital. He led me straight to the emergency ward of a government hospital. The typical stench of the hospital compounded with the cries of patients in pain left me numb. One more minute there and I would have fainted. I scampered out of the hall into the open air.
Flummoxed, I returned to the college. The nerve-wracking experience was writ large on my face, which a sensible Niranjan might have read. He avoided putting me into further predicament by asking me a question regarding the experience.
Finding it difficult to concentrate on the lecture, we bunked college that day and landed up at Chandigarh's Sukhna Lake.
Coming out of my shell-shocked condition, I asked him why he visited such a place as nobody, unless circumstances demand so, would want to go even in the wildest of dreams. He said: "This helps me remain humble."
He told me that he visits the hospital once in a fortnight so that he doesn't forget the pain and suffering of people. "Why don't you also do so," he suggested. "Impossible… never, forget me," I replied instantly.
Years later, he rang me up the other day from the US. We talked of the good old days at college and also recalled that visit to the hospital. Strange as it may sound, he continues with the same ritual even today, though the place is different.