Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Work, Pray, Eat

Kannan had been working at a far away place for the past 18 months. He hadn't seen his family in those 18 months. An year and a half ago he had to leave his family at his village and go work as a coolie for a railway track laying project somewhere in Maharashtra. The rains failed for the third consecutive year. He couldn't afford to make a living from agriculture. He had to leave his wife and 6yr old son. But he didn't have a choice.

He sincerely sent the 15 rupees he got as salary every month to his family through Money order. He never saved for himself. He never saw the need for that. They built a makeshift shed for all the coolies who worked there. They were provided with 2 meals per day. A doctor visited once in a month for a general medical examination. He couldn't have asked for more.

After 18 months the project came to an end. He got a letter from his wife 3 months back. She mentioned that the rains were good this year. He thought he can go back and be with his family and take up agriculture again.  That month he kept some money for his journey and sent the rest to his family. On the day of travel he packed some food for his 3 day journey. He boarded the train that would take him home. 2 days into the journey, all the food he brought was over. Thanks to his generosity for sharing his food with a poor fellow passenger. The 8 annas he was given by his employer as a departing gift was spent on toys for his little son. With no food and no money Kannan thought he could mange the remaining one day without food.

On the third day at around 4 in the morning the train stopped at some unknown place. The tracks ahead were broken, someone told him. It would take 5-6 hrs to repair the tracks and get the trains running they said. The train was re-routed to a near-by station till then. It was already close to a day since he ate anything. And he had to manage almost another day. The hunger pangs started hurting his stomach. All the passengers waited at the station close to 10hrs, still there was no news about when the train would start. Kannan was trying to pacify his hunger by drinking water. It was of no use.

He didn't have money to buy food and he will not beg. He would rather die he thought. He also thought about working for food. But there were no such jobs available. As he sat on the bench clutching his stomach he saw a family having their meal from their packages. All their heads were tonsured. He got up to ask some food from them but turned away and went to drink some more water. He came back and sat on the bench. Now his eyes started blurring. Uncontrollable, he went to them and asked, "Returning from Thirupathi?"

"Yes brother." The lady replied with a smile.

"Will I get some prasadam?", he asked hesitatingly.

"Sorry brother, we don't open the prasadam package until we reach home and perform pooja", the lady said with the utmost apologetic tone.

"It's ok.", he said and turned to leave. But unbearable, he again turned towards them and asked, "Do you atleast have some food. I'm very hungry."

Feeling very sorry for him she said, "Brother, couldn't you have asked us a little earlier? We just threw away the remaining food."

Then the man of the family took Kannan to a stall and bought him idlis. Kannan hesitated.

"Think of this as the prasadam you asked us a little while earlier.", the man said.

The memories came rushing to Kannan when his 10yr old grandson asked him, "Thatha why do you pray to food before you eat?"

17 comments:

  1. We'll only realise the value of having when we don't have. The post gives a very good insight.

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    1. Exactly. And thanks for reading. :-)

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  2. Great story.

    I loved how you showed the struggle between a man's pride and his stomach. Sometimes we are too proud to ask for help, while there are other important issues, like surviving. But without pride, we are nothing.

    There is a small problem (or mistake on my part), you mentioned Kannan buying gifts for his son. This means the son is quite young. But in the end, you mention his 10 year-old grandson. ... ?

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    1. Yes, our pride is our best friend and also worst enemy. My main point was to show the value of having/not having something.

      Kannan actually remembers that particular incident when his grandson asks the question. Its like he was 30 when the incident happened and now he is around 60. :-)

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  3. Nice narrative .. very touching..

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  4. The food was indeed the prasadam. Karma it was!

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  5. Great story :)
    I liked the way you have narrated it and how you have ended it...Moral became ten times stronger...
    Glad I read it...it made me think about every grain I might have wasted unknowingly or otherwise :)

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    1. Hey, welcome here. Thanks for reading. Its inspired by a real incident. Maybe thats why I don't like wasting food. :-)

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  6. Is my comment not accepted or wht?I commented days back :/
    Anyway, amazing writeup...especially the way you connected it all. And God blessed you..Karma!

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    1. Oh is it? Might be some problem with update. Then thank you even more for coming back and commenting again. :-)
      And yes, God bless Karma!

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  7. Thoughtful post! I liked your ending :)

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  8. very touching post.... anna he parabrahbhma took a new meaning.

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    1. Hey aks, thank you very much. Welcome here. :-)

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