Friday, September 18, 2009

Enlightenment explained through a story

There was this old tramp in Chennai (the ones who take bath once in a few weeks and wear torn clothes). He wass sleeping right at the edge of this nice river Coovum that flows through the heart of Chennai. Its a perennial river but the only issue with that river is that its waters are black in color :). It has taken all the sewage that Chennai has produced in the last 100 years and is now a huge open drainage. It was a sweltering hot night in the month of May. This fellow was sweating as he was trying to sleep. To make matters worse, mosquitoes were playing havoc with his night

Then, suddenly, he heard the sound of screeching tires on a vehicular over bridge above. The driver of the vehicle comes out and shouts at this man
'Sir, can you come here plz?'
So, this beggar, in the hope of getting a few rupees, pulls himself up and walks up to the over bridge and says
'Yes sir'
The driver says
'Madam is in the car, and she wants you to get in the car. She does not want you to sleep next to the Coovum.'
This guy is stunned. He cannot believe it. In the past, people have beaten him up for touching their cars and now, someone is actually asking him to enter the car. In the past, he had heard his friends talk about such dreams but this is happening to him in reality. He could not believe it but he did not want to waste this opportunity. So he quickly enters the car. Its was dark there and he could not see who the madam in the backseat was. He was also slightly worried in the back of his mind if this was some trick to drug him and remove his kidneys! This had happened to his pal a few weeks ago. But, that was a van, a dog catching van to be specific. So, he is probably safe. He comforted himself. Then, someone switched on the light. He saw a most wonderful lady dressed in a super sweet saree in the back of the car. She said,
Do not sleep near the coovum. Its stinking here. Ill give you a better place to sleep.
She motioned the car to go. The driver started the car and they sat in silence. The lady was busy reading her book. They finally reached the ladies house and she asked the servants to take care of the guest and told them to get him accommodated comfortably in the guest room. She then left him with the servants and went into the main house. So this guy went with the servants and they motioned him into a nice little room. By this time, he is convinced they are no kidney thiefs as his friend got beaten up the moment he entered their van. Not here. He relaxed a bit.

The servants told him that the lady of the house wanted him to take a bath first. So, he went straight to the washroom and saw a shower. After fiddling with it for sometime, he figured how to use it and how to get the waters temperature to be perfect by mixing the hot and the cold streams. He took his first ever bath in a shower. It was also first bath in three weeks. He stood there in the shower for close to an hour enjoying the steady stream of warm water on his shoulders for the first time. The moment he came out of the shower, he saw the most classical south indian dinner laid out in front of him on the dining table.

The food was served on a plantain leaf. There was vada, payasam, tamaring rice, pappad, pickle besides other things. The famed 18 dishes were there. He couldnt believe that he was gonna eat them. The last time he ate a vada was after he fought with a fellow beggar in front of a dustbin outside a marriage hall. He couldnt believe his luck. He pinched himself to check if he was dreaming.

Then, he started eating. He felt odd to sit on a chair and eat and that too without house flies competing for his food. At first, his eating was slow and then the speed picked up. All the pent up hunger got released and he started gorging like hell. The more he ate, the more the servants of the house gave him food. He wanted to stock himself up for three days and so he gorged like hell and licked the plantain leaf clean!

When he was finished, for the first time in his life, he felt like how a python would feel after it swallows a whole deer. The servants quickly cleaned up the place, motioned him to his bed and left. He went to the bed and saw it covered by a mosquito net. He lied down. For the first time in his life, he was about to sleep on a soft bed and without bring bitten by mosquitoes all night. It was so comfortable that he almost couldnt sleep in this new place. After great difficulty in convincing himself that this was real, he slowly dozed off.
Knock knock.
A sudden noise on the door. He did not want to get up. Of course. He is ensconced in this dream place of his - no mosquitoes, soft bed, full stomach. Why would be want to get up?
Can there be anything better in this world?
He thinks aloud. He decided against getting up. The knocking intensified and that disturbed his peace. He had to get up now. So, he slowly dragged himself to the door and opened it and there was a big surprise for him. The same lady who brought him home was standing there.
'Is everything comfortable', she asked.
He said,'Yes. Thanks to your highness!'
He continued, 'But your highness has to excuse me now! I really want to lie on that bed as there is no better heaven!
So he goes to the bed and lies down there leaving this lady at the door. She got a bit incensed. He looks at her from the corner of his eye not knowing what she would do next. He waited with bated breath. After some hesitation, she slowly came in.
'But I want to talk with you for sometime', she said.
She continued, 'Why dont you move over a bit? Ill talk to you while I lie down next to you.'
Now, he didnt expect that for sure! He was stunned and speechless. His thinking faculty was frozen and so he decided to just obey her. He moved across a little bit.
'That place is not sufficient for me', she said.
So he moved a bit more and a bit more, to accommodate her.

And then suddenly, he had a sinking feeling in his stomach and his body felt like it was falling down.


PS: Story from Anthony de Mello. Original story set in London. I changed the setting to Chennai.


B* said...

OOOH... I love the formatting and use of funky quotes to show dialogue.

karim said...

An insightfull post. Will definitely help.

Karim - Mind Power