Every morning I walk my daughter to the bus stop from where she gets on to her school bus. Most days after her bus leaves I walk a few steps to a small makeshift shop to buy the daily supply of milk and bread. This shop is manned by a man who has crossed his prime, I call him ‘uncle’. Apart from being on the later side of life, he is also partially blind. He wears this jacket with multiple pockets, each for a different denomination of the currency. One pocket for Re 1 coins, one pocket for Re.2 coins, one for 10 Rupees, one for 20, a different one for Rs. 100 and so on.
Small school going kids would stop to buy a cream cracker on their way to school, senior citizens on their early morning walk would stop by his shop for a bread and lots of chit chat, the always on a hurry office goer would hurriedly pick his brand of bread/butter or biscuits ( he lets you pick your stuff) and “Uncle” would always greet every one with a smile and a funny line or two, his imparity never a hindrance in his smile.
On quite a few times I noticed that some of the customers would come with bigger currency denomination like a Rs.500 or a Rs.2000 note. Uncle would do a quick mental calculation, rack his multiple pockets, feel the currency with his fingers and tender the exact change to the customer. But sometimes, being early mornings, he would be short of the change to return to the customer. He would then smile at the customer and say, “ take what you need and pay me tomorrow when you come”.
I have seen him saying this to customers quite a few times and each such time would leave me a little anxious, what if they don’t come back tomorrow? I would think.
Distressed by my anxiety and unable to hold my curiosity, finally I asked him one day, “Uncle, how do you remember who owes you what ? I have never seen you note it down anywhere. Do they really come back next day to pay you. Most shopkeepers would keep the money and tell the customer to adjust the change next time but you do the opposite, you will not be able to recognize them again.”
He gave me his usual smile and said, “ No I don’t remember who owes me what. Sometimes they come back and sometimes they may not even come back. I don’t keep a track.”
“But that means you are losing money to unscrupulous people.”, I said.
He smiled again and said, “ Nobody gets anything before his time and no one can get anything more than what is destined to them. I have lived my life honestly and have tried to be happy with whatever I have. So if they don’t come back , I don’t feel bothered. I have done my bit. I have tried to educate my children the best way I would, they are both in college now.” He say quite proudly and continues, “How they use their education and their life is their destiny. I have done my bit. Those who don’t pay me will have their destiny to live, why should I bother about them. He has his karma, I have my karma to live.” He smiled again and handed my change back to me.
As I made my way back to my home, I mulled over what he had just said to me and realized that sometimes life can be so…………simple !!!
Why am I writing about this in my travel blog…probably because this was also a journey to simple, unadulterated happiness.
And such stories are floating all around us, do you have a similar story ? I would love to hear it , if you do J .
Do share your story with me.