Posted by Patanjali Puri on Aug 15, 2013
I knock at the door, but there is no response. I knock again and wait. A head pops out of the door. “Patanjali?”, and even before I respond, she opens the door wide. The smile on her face is even wider. I come in and settle down.
An hour in silence passes, as if in a moment. When I open my eyes at the end of it, I see a lot of smiling faces all around me. I never notice when the others tiptoe in - my co-travellers on this inner journey!
Though there is a wider context, conversation that follows is not structured and is refreshingly free flowing. The whole idea is to surface one’s inner thoughts and see if others resonate with them; not that it is necessary that they should. Incredible experiences are shared. A very old but amazingly graceful lady, perhaps in her nineties tells us how, as young lass, she leant her first lesson of life on humility and respect for fellow human beings, their social status notwithstanding, from her stern mother. Not only did she not forget her learning for the rest of her life, but practices it till date. A very young, extremely pleasant boy astonishes me with some profound thoughts on why is it important to love oneself before one can ever endeavour to love others. Other come-in with diverse perspectives on life and what it has to offer. But what touches a very raw nerve is the experience shared by someone about this tired man on a hard sunny day who reaches up to a pot of water outside a kirana (grocery) store for a sip of water, to find the pot empty. “Seth ji, thoda paani dedo na?” (Sir, can you give me some water please?), asks this poor man to the shop owner. Since the shopkeeper is busy, he responds – “Abhi mera aadmi aake de dega.” (My man (apparently the servant) will come and give it to you). When nothings happens in next ten minutes, this poor fellow requests again and gets the same response. Third time, when he pleads again and is told that the ‘aadmi’ (man) is about to come, this poor man politely says – “Seth ji, thori der ke liye aap hi ‘aadmi’ ban jao na!” (Sir, why don’t you, turn ’human’ for me!).
A simple dinner that should have followed actually turns out to be a sumptuous feast, as no one wants to give this grand opportunity to practise generosity a miss and brings loads of goodies along. The conversations are carried forward, but are lighter, yet authentic. A deep sense of all pervading love and mutual respect is palpable throughout. The smiles are sincere and absolutely genuine. It is not difficult to lose sense of time when everyone shows childlike curiosity to know more about you and be so profusely appreciative. One has to pinch oneself and ask – “Is this real?”
Pulling myself away and saying goodbye is like my childhood days when I had to peel myself off from the family to board a bus which would take me to my hostel far far away. It is so difficult to believe that the people that I have spent the last over three most beautiful hours of my life were absolute strangers till a few hours before and I was meeting all of them for the first time in my life.
While coming down the steps, someone pushes a book in my hand and says, “You have been tagged. Someone gave it for you.” The book is titled ‘God speaks’.
Yes, he does! I just heard him some time ago. And He speaks in so many beautiful voices!!