Life is the greatest teacher of all. It has a way of teaching us things that no one else could.
Following is an incident that occurred 13 years back when I was still in medical school, young, naive, struggling, and clueless about what lay ahead in the future. It was one of those evenings when I was feeling a bit low after long hours of studying, and after arguing with my parents about some trivial matter that got stretched too far. I looked down my window and felt even more miserable watching my school batchmates playing football and volleyball while I was in my room all by myself slogging it out and trying to act as if I was having fun studying those heavy medical books.
I had been feeling low in confidence those days as I was thinking way too much about where life was heading, what would be my future, the not so good performance in earlier two years in medical school, not living up to my caliber, etc. so I decided to go for a walk for a break.
Feeling dejected, I sat down on an empty secluded bench in the garden, cursing life. I thought to myself that I had really spoiled my childhood studying all day to top in my batch since school, not managing enough time to play, going through all the tough times and realities in life, seeing my parents struggle to establish a foundation etc.
In those 30 mins, I had developed negativities in life cursing myself for not really enjoying growing up, and convinced myself that I had a really tough and bad childhood. The moment this thought came to my mind, I saw a shadow approaching me.
It was that of our society’s 16-year-old breadwala - a boy who had been selling bread, pav, biscuits, farsan etc in all buildings for the last 4 years. He was holding his heavy bags in both his hands, each one of which would have really weighed around 15-20 kgs each. He came close, put his bags down, sat next to me and said these words, “Bhaiya, aaj bahut tension mein lag rahe ho….kya baat hai ? Itnaa tension mat lo, tum sirf padhai karo aur tension iss chote bhai ke liye chod do.” These were his exact words that really changed my attitude towards life. That boy had just touched my heart deeply. Here I was cursing my childhood that was by no means hard compared to what he was going through, literally carrying life’s burden in his own 2 hands.
I then thought about my dhobi, Pintu, the 26-year-old boy who had been collecting clothes for ironing from our society for the last 16 years; my phoolwala, Manoj, then 24 years, who had been delivering flowers for prayers in my building for the last 14 years. What a childhood these three would have had, yet showing up daily to my house with a smile on their faces.
Those few words from that boy that evening really changed the way I have looked at life ever since, always staying positive no matter how hard the situation is, following the motto - WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, ONLY THE TOUGH GET GOING.