We all have our morals and ethics. We chose to abide by our own laws so that we may appear to be a good citizen...a good human being. But every now and then...we come across a situation where we have to chose to stand by our morals....or compromise.
It was a hot summer day...as normal as any other. I was walking around with my dad, returning from a day of checkups at the hospital. My dad has a bad knee...and it was giving him some trouble. Yet, we walked around laboriously the whole summer afternoon, shifting from one clinic to another. But as for me...i was lost in my own thoughts. My studies were not going great. 2nd year of university and i was as miserable as ever in my education! It bothered me...more so on that day then ever. As i followed my dad blindly through the streets...my mind preoccupied....cursing myself on my poor performance...trying to figure out where i went wrong from being a genius in school to digging a grave for myself in college. As these thoughts ran around in my head, i came face to face with one of the most challenging moments in my life.
I suggested to my dad that we should hire a rickshaw and make our way home now since his knee was causing him severe pain...to the point where he was limping. As I looked around, i saw two rickshaw pullers near by...one was an old man...roughly the age of my grandfather...and the other...a kid...maybe 13 years old!...and it was then that i realized i had to make a choice. I have a soft spot for the elderly...maybe because i love and have been loved by my grandparents...or more so because i respect a person who endured the test of life. Every now and then when i see the elderly in such situations, my heart always collapses. I get this overwhelming feeling of sympathy that this person should be resting peacefully at home...with his children taking care of him as he lives out his old age in peace....like my grandfather was doing at that time. Such an old person should not be on the streets toiling for food.
So there they were...in front of me. My father who was in pain....an elderly whom i would rather carry on my shoulders than to be pulled around by....and a kid who should be in school...surrounded by books and friends. He should be laughing and giggling...running around free...not toiling for a future. I had to choose! As selfish as it may seem....without hesitation, i chose to ride on the rickshaw being pulled by the kid. As i sat there, thoughts about "child labor"..."innocence lost"...."right to education"....kept on flashing through my head, like messages in an awareness commercial. Suddenly this simple ride home was becoming an psychological war.
As i sat there...behind the kid pedaling with all his might...my mind was a wreck. Did i do what was necessary or should i have done the right thing by choosing not to be pulled by any of these rickshaws....which meant making my dad stand in pain longer. Should i have chosen my morals over my father? Was this even worth thinking over? I tried desperately to calm myself...thinking of excuses as to why this situation was justifiable..."i am paying him..he gets money"..."if he doesn't do it..who will?"..."it would have been injustice to the old man if i hadn't taken the kid" ...but as hard as i tried, the excuses did not suffice. For that moment...i was lost.
After the brief period of restlessness, i sat there in complete silence...observing the kid maneuver the rickshaw through the busy streets. I looked at my dad, he was in his own world through all of this...his eyes squinting every time pain shot down his leg. I felt odd...selfish....i had succumb. But where was i wrong?...what else could have i done? Someone had to take the burden of this simpe choice...and i had chosen the kid. I imagined myself...standing on the street looking at myself ride past in a rickshaw being pulled by a little child. I had nothing but shame for myself.
Like a coward, i took refuge where every other human being does....in God. I said to myself, "This is what God must have in plan for me. My purpose. Or maybe its my good karma acting up. Every one is living according to their own karma. This kid, the old man, my father....me....all reaping what we sow. But i haven't sown anything..so why am i sitting here being able to judge this? Did i do some humanitarian project while in my mothers' womb...for which i am enjoying this lavish life?" With every answer i tried to give myself...it felt like i had put myself on trail...and there i was...screaming at myself.."Guilty! Guilty! Guilty"....... so i closed my eyes...and hid.
...and then my mind said to me... "Maybe it's not karma for what they have done...maybe it's karma for what will be. They are not all reaping Akash... maybe some are sowing. Every soul is fighting its own battle here. Some against physical pain...some against tragedy of loss...some against time itself. So don't insult them by having pity on them, instead take solace in the fact that in your education, you have a battle to fight aswell. So fight to win...not to lose"
Its funny how one's mind comes up with reason to calm the heart in moments of madness...like a mother comforting her child...sometimes with the truth....sometimes with sugar coated lies. As for me, i had returned to peace. I opened my eyes...and everything seemed...normal. The tigers seemed to have returned to thier cages. As i looked around, every person had become a soldier. Finally...i felt at peace. Peacefull...but strangely numb. It felt like I had abandonded something...traded moral for reason. At that moment....some part of me died.
But life had suddenly become clearer...like i had come out of the forest...found the path again. At that moment...some part of me woke up.