All that matters is… a purpose that defines you

We are all wanderers in our own little worlds, embracing pleasure, avoiding pain, seeking happiness, and accumulating more assets – more than the person next door, or the person sitting in next cubicle. We crave for things that seem to matter the most, but soon they are replaced by new cravings. We fancy a new object of desire every other day, but irrespective of whether our cravings are satisfied or not, life generally moves on, more or less the same way. And then, we stumble upon an almost impossible purpose that stands right in front of us, blocking our way. It stares at us, rattling our core and questioning conventional wisdom. The odds may be stacked heavily against us, but the purpose cannot be ignored, avoided, or compromised – for going around it would mean a diminished self-worth, and regret that would last us a lifetime.

It is a purpose that defines the meaning of life for us; a purpose that defines our existence.

A farmer struggles under the weight of successive droughts. He toils his field relentlessly, year after year, while the government and the rain gods continue to make a mockery of his existence. He has a purpose that is much bigger than his own life – the life of his wife and children are at stake.

A young couple is madly in love. Their passion for each other extends beyond the harsh boundaries of their orthodox families and communities. Their love is too pure to understand the differences in their caste or religion. Their purpose to spend the rest of their lives in each other’s arms is far too precious to be compromised. They elope in search for a more humane world, while the death threat looms over their head.

A scientist tries to make the first light bulb. He has a vision to illuminate the world, beyond anyone’s comprehension. His purpose is far too important to be shadowed by repeated failures. He sees each failure merely as a life incident, a learning opportunity, a useful step that will improve the quality of his subsequent efforts.

Hoards of people follow the lead of a fearless saint, in search of freedom. Centuries of slavery has reduced human life to redundancy and humiliation – the status quo must be challenged with full vigor. Freedom becomes a purpose that cannot be denied, not anymore. The common man dons the courage of a fearless warrior, ready to lay their life without second thoughts.

The stories are endless, and they are all around us. People leave their stable careers and venture out behind their dreams – they fight for a cause, open a school, start a business, take up writing, join politics, move back to their village or country, among others. It could be your story or it could be mine – if not today, then tomorrow. At least once in our life, we are all challenged by circumstances to rise above the level of our mundane existence. We find a compelling purpose that we believe defines us better than our status quo. It takes us beyond our materialistic world and beyond our comforts. Of course, the path is extremely challenging – we must step over our insecurity and self-doubt. Then, we must find the courage and perseverance to go on and on, no matter how discouraging or testing the circumstances. What is right or wrong does not matter anymore, for the journey is more important than the destination.

All that matter is… we step forward and pursue the purpose that defines us.

This post is written as a part of ‘All that Matters‘ contest at in association with INK Live 2013.


Lootera… stole my heart!

A touching story… with flawless execution. The soft and subtle picturization of relationships is beautiful. The transitions from one scene to another are fluidic. The songs are rhythmic and so perfectly embedded in the story that you hardly notice them. Everyone did justice to their part. Sonakshi is the show stealer… I wonder why she ever took up films like Dabang or Son of Sardar… they are so demeaning to any actress who knows how to act.

A much-needed breather for anyone who has been disappointed by the patchy Ashiqui, Jawaani or Ranjhana!

Who Cares about Honesty?

Some disruption in the Metro service had me waiting on the platform unusually long. Per the timing board, the train should have been there twenty minutes back. And, we didn’t hear any announcements either. When I saw a Metro staff come out of his office and stare down the tracks while talking to someone on phone, I sensed something was wrong.

When I inquired, he informed me there was some public agitation few stations back that was blocking the Metro service. He assured it should be resolved soon.

I requested more details, “How soon? Will it be five minutes or thirty?”

He had no idea.

That gave me enough reason to walk down the station and take the less reliable road transport. Since I was not acquainted with bus routes, I had to hunt down an auto.

Some five minutes later I found an empty auto. “Will you go to Dwarka?” I asked.

“Sure, it will be eighty rupees.”

“Eighty? Why don’t we go by the meter?”

“Okay, meter plus twenty.” He demanded.

It pinched me, like many times before. I took out my smartphone and clicked a photo of his number plate. “Go ahead. You guys will never change, and then you complain if someone files a complaint against you. But, I guess you need that.” I looked away, down the road for another one.

The trick worked. His voice softened, “Okay sir, come on in.”

As I stepped in, he felt obliged to defend himself, “Actually sir, the new meters are out… and I was only charging you the new rates.”

“If they are out, you should have got one already.” I gave a curt reply.

Then, he started complaining about how the auto drivers can’t make enough to survive. A big portion goes for the rent or loan instalment, auto maintenance etc.

“Well, if you guys stop bargaining with each customer, you may actually do more trips. Your per-trip profit might go down, but your daily earning will surely go up.” I offered a rational thought.

But, he did not seem open for ideas.

I persisted with my questions, “Won’t it be less stress free life if people just focus on hard work and try to live with what they make? Desperation to make a little extra every single minute may give you more money, but isn’t that such a big hassle? Whatever happened to honesty?”

“Who cares about honesty, sir?” It was a matter-of-fact statement than a question.

“Well, I think I know at least one guy who seems honest and hard-working. Have you heard about this new party, Aam Aadmi Party?” I asked.

“I know. He sounds honest, but how long will he stay that way? Power corrupts people.” Pessimism ruled his thoughts.

“At least he deserves a chance.” Then I asked a personal question, perhaps breaking the rules of democracy, “If you think he is honest, will you vote for him?”

“I don’t want to waste my vote. He is just going to split some votes and probably favour the opposition.”

So, in the land of Gita, results matter more than the right path. I wondered.

“So, honesty does not count?” I asked.

“Who is honest, Sir?” He asked, and then answered himself, “I will tell you who is honest… jiska daav nahin lagta, sirf wohi imaandar hai (one who hasn’t found a shortcut to make quick money, only that guy is honest).”

I continued to wonder if that has become a prevalent belief among the common men.

After a few minutes of silence, we reached the destination. I rounded up the meter reading and paid him.

Two days later, I learned the new auto meters would be effective the next day.