After working till late evening for a couple of months, finally, today the work I had been assigned to reached to a major milestone and I was relieved, and more importantly satisfied with the outcome. I decided to treat myself by leaving office early while the sun is still at work in the sky. I could not afford luxury of sitting idle though, since the coming weekend was looming with horrible prospect of my Spanish class exam. I thought of relaxing for a while and then start the preparation. The sun was sarcastically laughing at me when I left the office. I could not understand why, but when I reached home, it was evident what the God of light found funny. I gave my house key to the landlord the previous day to keep with him, and when I really needed it, he was not home. Where do I go now? The office is not the place, certainly. A mall…loud and suffocating. No way. Garden…surely…why not? There was still enough light and I had my Spanish book in my bag. The next moment I was at the garden.
A few moments later I found a bench in a peaceful corner and opened the book. I was trying hard to concentrate but a voice kept disturbing me from a nearby bench. A girl apparently was talking to her best friend’s fiancée on phone. She was indeed a glib talker. She was trying to get the man to come to the garden so that she could see him. Her friend was accompanying her but she had a passive, nothing-to-talk-about role in the whole conversation. Our active talker was completely unaware of the people around her. I wanted to ask her how could she switch off the world around her with such an ease but she did not stop talking for infinity! I was not finding it interesting it any more after a while so I put on my earphones and started listening to music along with reading the book. I could not write anything with the trembling hand and my heart was pounding at fast pace inside the chest. The heart kept going back to the man I met at the entrance a few minutes before. He was my first manager in my company, so effectively he became my first mentor in the professional world. He gave me a smile and enquired about my project. Behind his smiling face, there was an unmistakable tinge of sadness and worry. When I enquired about his work, I came to know that he was laid off 6 months back and he was still searching for a new job! That came as a shock! Here was a man who has worked in the computer industry for more than 15 years, had contributed to large number of projects and had quite an insight into the working of the industry, but he was jobless and clueless at that moment.
The same day morning, I also read a blog of a man who is a PhD and was handed over a pink slip due to recession and could not land himself a job after months of trying so decided to drive a taxi. He writes his blogs to share his vivid taxi-driving experiences and there is clear air of hopefulness in his writing. The fate has certainly delivered a rough hand to these two people. They are much more talented and deserving than people like me. That made me think how lucky I am. There are less deserving people in the same world who are more successful. A dear friend of mine once described such people as lucky bastards. He certainly had a point there if you can ignore use of language for a moment. What it also implies is that we may be giving too much credit to our own talent when success is mostly serendipitous. There is, no doubt, role of hard-work and perseverance along with the skills, but they alone seldom make for a winning combination. These two gentlemen might have great plans for their family and future, but what happened to them was beyond the limit of planning. Our nature is such that we try to see patterns where there are none. We think that life is like a farm where you can grow whatever you want the way you like, but life ultimately turns out to be a forest. Any wild plant comes up anywhere; there is no fixed pattern of growth but the wild. And the worst of all, wild bushes catch fire! Can we do anything about it? Maybe not. Except go wild, grow in wilderness.
* The title is my tribute to Pankaj Kapur for his role in Vishal Bhardwaj’s movie The Blue Umbrella, and especially for the scene when he delivers his speech after a wrestling competition, under his beloved umbrella, with the ending note “by chance”.