‘Late last month, from 25th to 27th October 2018, I made a short (3-day) visit to India to attend the funeral (10th day Kriya) of my Gurumata, Smt. Bimla jee Hakhu, at New Delhi. For decades, while her husband, our Guru (Sh. Bansi Lal Hakhu, aka Bhaisahib) – a renowned teacher of Transcendental Meditation (TM) – attended to the heads (minds/spirits) of thousands of people – at Srinagar, then at Jammu and Delhi after 1990, our Gurumata tirelessly tended to our bellies, like a caring and loving mother.
On a daily basis, for nearly five decades, Bimla jee would feed lunches, dinners and / or hourly tea and coffee (with snacks) to scores of people who would visit Bhaisahib for learning TM, checking, Thursday prayers, regular discourses etc. Her supporting role became significantly prominent after the 1990 exodus of Kashmir Pandits when a considerable number of Kashmiri Pandits needed to learn and practice TM to regain some sanity, and reclaim their lives back, after having suffered a sudden deep and irreversible shock of losing their home (Maej Kasheer).
Her 10th day Kriya, performed at Nigambodh Ghat, was attended by about 30 people, including her family members. The number of attendees was significantly far less than the number of people whom she would have fed and looked after in her life. She was such a kind, warm and loving person! Well, that is life; people move on after your use-by date!
During this short visit, I also visited my father at Jammu for just a day to catch up in person.
As per my habit, I also interviewed a number of cab drivers in Delhi who assisted me in commuting around. Their stories and thoughts about the general life in India fell generally in line with those I have interviewed previously during the past few years. Undoubtedly, the Indian cab drivers have their fingers constantly on the pulse of India’s veins and arteries. They are struggling with the effects of an ever-growing traffic, poisonous air, aggressive behaviour of people and corruption in general. It would be worthwhile here to share the stories of two such cab drivers.
My first cab driver was Mr Sunil (26), who transported me from IGIA to Greater Noida on the early morning of 25th October. Sunil comes originally from Bihar – from a well-off Chowhury family – but has been living in Delhi since he was 16. He has done his schooling up to Year 8 before fleeing his native Bihar about 10 ten years ago (a) for chasing greener pastures in Delhi and living closer to his childhood sweetheart, who had also moved from Bihar to Delhi with her parents; and (b) to escape from the burden of school and the family responsibilities.
Eight years ago, when he was only 18, Sunil married his sweetheart, who was a BA (Part 2) student at that time. His parents did not attend the wedding; they thought it was only a joke, as he was too young to marry. Since then, the young couple has produced two beautiful children, 4 and 7, both school-going at the present.
I asked Sunil why did he marry so young, and that too without the permission and the attendance of his parents. He said his wife is the only child of her parents and his father-in-law is doing well. His parents-in-law offered to house him after their daughter’s wedding. In his own words, “Hum kya aaloo chap hun, aise hee shaadi karte? Jab ghar and bheebi dono mile, tabi to shaadi key, chhod ke nahi chale jaate usko?” (Meaning: “Am I a hillbilly? When I got a home and a wife too, I decide to marry; would I have not otherwise abandoned her?”)
Wow, such a smart go-getter! Love! What love? It is all material! Undoubtedly, Sunil intends to return to his native Bihar one day to reclaim his inheritance from his parents and siblings.
During our early morning 45-minute journey, Sunil kept chewing tobacco to remain awake. But I had to make him chew gum and drink some water on the Greater Noida expressway when I noticed he was dozing, with our cab running at a speed of around 100 km/hr. As per my habit, I always sit in the front of a cab and engage the cab driver in a meaningful conversation – out of my respect for a fellow human being and my endeavours to learn something from the driver.
My last cab driver of my India trip was Mr Ashok Kamath (50), originally also from Bihar, who had previously been working in a managerial position, in a multi-national automobile company, for nearly two decades. He loved his two brothers dearly and would spend lots of money and time on them. He would not eat his dinner till his brothers would return from work and join him in their family dinner every day. Things changed suddenly for the worse for Mr Kamath, one day in 2016, when a tantric appeared at his door, mesmerised him and his wife and made them both wear finger rings. Soon after that, he lost his mental balance and resigned from the company, with intent to start his own business where he lost everything and went under debt.
With his newfound hope and realisation, Mr Kamath exclaimed, “I was flying very high; I did not care for money or God. I had become too confident and arrogant. But God taught me a lesson; I crashed not only to the ground but sunk below the ground surface. Now, I am slowly reclaiming my life back and am determined to make much more progress than I had made earlier. I have become humble and wise. I have also learnt how selfish people can be, and how callous and unpredictable this world is. My own two brothers turned their back on me when I needed their support the most; they thought I was going to be a liability for them.” Reportedly, both his brothers are doing very well in their respective lives. I wished him well before shaking his hands at the drop point.
Once again, as Mr Kamath has experienced, people move on after they realise you are past your use-by date! We all have some usefulness till some particular date, beyond which we all are seen as liabilities by the people who have earlier been close to us or have used us for their own ends. Well, that is life!’