April 30, 2347hrs
Finally, after a big disappointment from JEE, got a relief to know that my paper was good enough to get me to a NIT. But, I am not 100% laudable for it. I guess nobody is. Teachers, friends, family share the percentage too. My story was even the same, till I met someone, completely unfamiliar on the day before the exam.
Apr 28, 1700hrs
I reached Platform no. 1, Habibganj station, half an hour before the arrival of intercity (Bhopal to Indore), only to see a massive crowd of students waiting for the train. I was watching roughly 0.3% of the students whom I was going to compete with. Luckily, I convinced myself not to think about the situation that’s going to arise when the train would come. I was just roaming around when the announcement of the train being late by an hour added to my disconcert. Perhaps, the greatest reason was my unavoidable thinking what's gonna happen tomorrow. Waiting... Waiting...
The train arrived. And what happened after that was in complete resemblance to what I imagined an hour ago. People started rushing towards their compartments pushing everyone in their way, with a free exchange of abuse. Getting into it was a matter of trial. One slightly good thing that happened was that our bogie stopped exactly in front of us so we didn't hurry and waited for the rush to decrease.
We'd our reservations confirmed so no difficulty in occupying our seats...
The train departed, twenty five minutes after that mess up and we began what we planned for, revision.
I took out my NCERT chemistry textbook, and started parroting some important organic reactions when my first interruption arose.
A woman (might be ~35), typical Bhopali, emerged from nowhere and started arguing us claiming the seats to be her’s. It took around some 30-40 minutes for her to give up so we could set our eyes back to the books...
Hardly twenty minutes would have passed when some 15-20 students sitting a few seats ahead of us started playing Antakshari, which lasted till we reached Indore. And this marked the end of our hopes to accomplish one last revision...
Meanwhile, the passengers in the train were filled liked sardines, so badly that we could feel the train sliding on the rails. Since we didn't had any supplements, we began discussing physics, followed by politics, movies, Kate Beckinsale, life in Kota (not about how well it is for the JEE aspirants, but how well it has nurtured to a marketing empire) each ended without conclusion. Later, we reached Shajapur. As the train was already overloaded, the students waiting on that station looked terrified and believe me, it was real. Few of them I heard decided to go by bus. Suddenly, a girl, for the same cause came and started urging to the passengers who were accumulating near the exits to let her in. But obviously, no one cared. But she wasn't among the ones to go back that day. The window near which I was sitting was broken. I asked her to hand her bag inside through the window. She did the same without asking anything, which got her rid of the tonny luggage. The train began to move and I thought she didn't make it. But she succeeded. I handed her the bag and continued listening to my playlist full of motivational songs which I’d specially downloaded for such occasions. After 4-5 hours of that continuous restlessness we finally reached Indore, dead tired few minutes before the date changed.
There came our second challenge. We needed a roof to spend our night so we hired an auto to look for a nearby hotel. But there were no limits to our surprise ('shock' precisely) to know that there wasn't even ONE room left in any of the seven hotels we checked in. We weren't in a position to afford a luxurious one. Even if we could, we didn't want to end up just sleeping without availing those royal privileges.
We were just thinking silently what to do when a voice turned our heads-
"Come to my home, sir! First class accommodation is available. Water comes round the clock. I’ll arrange beds and fans for you, so you can sleep. I’ll also take you to your exam centers in the morning."
It was the auto driver. He was a swarthy tough looking man in his forties. By this time, he was well acquainted with our situation. Evidently, everyone imagined how it would be like to stay in the house of an auto driver when he continued-
“Sir! At least consider seeing it once. Not a problem if you disagree. I’ll drop you wherever you want. I assure you.”
He might have read what was going in our minds. That’s why he was emphasizing. As we were left with no other option, we headed to his home.
This time I lost in the battle of imagination vs. reality. He was living (probably alone) in a three story house, first and second floor he told he gave for rent. We had a luxurious hall having 32' LCD and 5.1 surround waiting for us, two bedrooms each with double beds, though no cooler (his excuse was that the cooler has gone for a replacement with a bigger one. Considering he was well off financially, it didn't really look like an excuse), well equipped bathroom with a bathtub (which really triggered me to immediately jump in it as I was perspiring badly) the front wall had a mount board for LCD though it wasn't installed...and a kitchen. There was hardly any chance of declining.
We kept our luggage there and went out to look for some nearby restaurant or dhaba as our stomachs were demanding their shares of business too. We found a dhaba at half a mile where we had our dinner. Coming back, I almost slept instantly while my friends indulged in their night gossips for like an hour or so... that’s what they told me.
"Get up lads. You're late. Get ready c'mon. Hurry up."
A stern voice reached our ears. Since we were completely exhausted in the encounter(s) of last night, we were feeling a little low even in the morning. But as the exam was the first priority, we managed to get ready in an hour.
We headed for our exam center. But before that we wanted to have some light breakfast, and we thought poha-jalebi would just be fine. So we went to the same dhaba and ordered poha-jalebi and tea...
Midst eating, I asked him (driver) the question which I was trying to suppress since last night.
"Uncle, you've such a house. You live alone?"
He nodded in agreement.
"Where are your wife and kids?"
"They live in Bhopal."
"And you earn your livelihood with just an auto, that too in a vast city like this? I mean, how do you manage such a house? And how do you look so calm and free?” I asked without a pause.
He finished his last sip of tea, and said-
"I've to, sir! I am helpless (he didn't mean financially; there wasn't a single sign of compulsion on his face). I am very much emotionally attached to this city. Born here, studied here, and got married here too. Shrimatiji and kids live in Bhopal. We've transport business over there. Proud owner of three trucks, he said smiling. We've a shop too at Chowk Bazaar there, Shrimatiji handle that. She’s graduate. Truly speaking sir, I am very much contented. Discontinued after high school. But my son studies in one of the top schools of Bhopal. Bitiya is very young, will be joining her brother from this year. I never expected more and more out of my life, and maybe that’s the reason I've everything."
I and my friends remained silent for a few moments. Perhaps everyone was thinking how can a man be so satisfied, so complete in himself? It’s against human nature. After a few minutes, we finished our breakfast and left...
Overall, the exam was good. Glad. On my way back home, I was trying to recollect the incidents happened with me in the last 24 hours.
Here I am putting it all into a piece of paper expecting that someday, somebody will read it. May utter a word of appreciation or two.
But it’s just a story, right? Who cares what happened with any Aayush Kumar Pandey. Even if anyone does, do they really mean it? Incidents happen every day. They are a part and parcel of our life. But they have the power to mould our future. This was surely among one of them, which taught me that there’s one value on this planet, rarer than Sapphire, Emerald or Ruby, and that’s SATISFACTION. Not more than a handful of people get the chance to experience it. At this point of time, when there’s cut-throat competition amongst mankind, many people doubt its legitimacy. They may ask questions like-
“Who are you? Dr. Phil?”
“No one is satisfied. Look at yourself. Don’t you want a better future?”
They have the right to know the answer. The answer is- Our demands?? No. Our increasing demands. Yes, or maybe there’s one more word in the dictionary- GREED. Firstly, some quotes which I compiled in connection to the context-
“What do all men with power want? More power.”
~The Oracle (The Matrix Reloaded-2003)
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”
“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
Secondly, my explanation to the question-
Who doesn't? But the approach is wrong.
We are the dominating species on this planet. Indeed we are. And this itself has become a reason for our dilemma. The secrets behind the world’s end are the needs (or greed) of its inhabitants itself. God is so clever, that he set his hands free by deliberately infecting us by this virus when he created us, and we, in a quest to become cleverer failed to understand that. Perhaps that’s why we held him responsible for OUR misery, most of the times. Ironically, another human tendency. We are so weak to admit that what we are committing is not a votary of humanity. We can’t redress what we have done in the past. But unfortunately, we aren't concerned about the future too. There are other explanations to the question as well, which if written down, would fill a volume. I am just hovering over the prominent ones.
This philosophy may appear to be useless to an age in which we are, but one day...
Regarding the lesson- Everyone has his own perception. This is mine. It’s just an experience which I thought worth sharing. No disrespect intended towards anyone’s opinion.