Well Worth the Effort
‘Faith is taking the first step even if you can’t see the staircase’. What happened to the ‘Look before you leap’ stuff? ‘Surrender yourself to whatever is pre-defined for you’. I did that when I got married. ‘Practice Zero judgement, zero complaint and no criticism’. Is anyone announcing a layoff or pay cut today? ‘Values are more important than valuables’. If my valuables have no value then why am I calling them valuable at all?
Old man Paul loved playing mental games with the never-ending stream of maxims his friends would share on his ‘Oldie-Goldies’ group. Relegated to a quasi-permanent settlement in a wheel chair, he could no longer move his atrophied legs. A freak ‘hit and run’ accident had put him in a difficult spot. Knocking at the doorstep of his nineties, the free-spirited Paul was not quite enjoying this unwelcome development in his life.
Nevertheless nothing could deter him from exercising bits and pieces of his frail body even while seated in his chair. However, more than the physical part, Paul enjoyed exercising his mind with a daily bout of Sudoku and jotting down a few scribbles of his perspectives beside challenging the ‘fast-food’ maxims he inwardly detested.
Seeing his seven-year old great-grandson Jamey playing with the packing case of a newly-delivered refrigerator was such a joy. The family was down over for Christmas and Paul loved it. The child had abandoned the expensive toys which his parents had got him last evening for his birthday. For him, the rustle of the cardboard and the popping of the bubble-wrap held far greater charm as he set about creating his own private den. What imagination and creativity it was! Perhaps it was genetic.
Paul valued originality. Never the beaten path for him. Unafraid and always challenging the status quo, it had been his way of life as long as he could remember it. Messing with his memory board, his thoughts went back to his very early school days. Born in a family which could ill-afford a fancy education, a generous benefactor and a stroke of luck found him getting admitted in a so-called public school. He felt out of place in a room full of children who were far better-versed in the Queen’s language.
Not the one to give up easily, Paul would soak in as many words in a day as he possibly could. He would try mixing them into sentences, often at the cost of mirth and laughter from the rest of the class. Bullies can be cruel indeed, like it always has been. And then came the angelic Mrs Jacob. An English language teacher par excellence.
He could not fathom why, but Paul took an immediate liking to the suave and glamorous Mrs J. More so after that eventful day of the test when the class was asked to pen down an essay on an impromptu topic. Every kid had struggled a bit including Paul. But when the marks were dished out later next day, there was stunned silence all around. Mrs J had given the highest marks to our man.
As he went across to collect his test notebook, Mrs J gave him a smile and a pat, “That’s because it is so original Paul.” That moment changed everything for Paul. The bullies and their ridicule just disappeared just like Paul’s fears. Mrs J’s novel experiment in pedagogy had paid off. Confident and courageous, the tiny tip of Paul’s cherished fountain-pen never rested thereafter.
There was no looking back ever for Paul who refused to be a cloned couch-potato intellectual. His unrestricted thoughts flowed endlessly during his entire lifetime. A brave writer and journo he was. As if Frank Sinatra’s top of the charts for 36 weeks in 1969, ‘My Way’ was written with ole man Paul in mind.
“Boppa, how about joining me in my den?” Jamey’s gentle request woke up Paul from his slumber. He opened his eyes reluctantly and saw a pair of tiny feet sticking out from the cardboard pieces. The child had created quite a mess all over the room and the fragile structure looked anything but a den.
Not wanting to let the moment pass, Paul sighed and muttered, “Lemme try son”. In great pain, he pulled himself down from the wheel-chair with immense difficulty. He somehow managed to creep inside Jamey’s haven and hugged him tightly, “Wow! It is super sweetheart! Quite like the Taj Mahal. Or probably even better.”
“Yeah, I thought so as well Boppa.”,acknowledged the budding architect with beaming pride. Paul managed a wrinkly smile as well. He knew the baton had been passed.
For sure, it was well worth the effort.
Taking a leaf out as well,
First published at seekmediation.com on 27/12/22
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