I was my usual self that day. Silly, goofy and terribly stressed out.
There was an urgent project delivery to be carried out that next day and I had to complete my bit by the 'End of the day'.
Just as I was struggling hard to meet deadlines, I received call from one of the most important ladies of my life.
My lifeline and yet the bane of my existence.
And I rushed back home.
I rushed home from work because my maid said that she would visit my place little earlier than usual. You see, she told me sharply, that she had a family, babies and was not a 'vagabond' like me.
I rushed back home because if I didn’t, the unwashed utensils, the dirty floors and an empty stomach would come to haunt me. And I was so stressed out with office work and I didn’t feel like slogging myself with housework.
I carried with me my ammunition (i.e. my laptop, my other lifeline and yet the bane of my existence) so that I could complete my work from home.
I was preoccupied with how I would manage to complete my work and provide for an error free delivery, when I entered the lift, on the ground floor.
As the lift door opened at the second floor a child entered the lift. He must be 6 or 7 year old and looked at me gruffly. He seemed matured beyond his age. I observed him quietly.
I had seen this child before, he had recently moved into the apartment opposite to mine on the 21st floor. Perhaps he had found some friends on 2nd floor and therefore boarded the lift from there.
You know how kids are, they find friends just everywhere. And look at me, I have none. I can hardly get along with anyone, be it my colleagues, my family and even my maid. Everyone seemed to be after my life. My parents were after my marriage, my colleagues gossiped behind my back and my boss thought that I was a robot and that my life's purpose was to only to follow his commands. My maid thought I had no disciple and had taken to herself the task of bringing good sense in me.
The child looked at me gravely and then smiled. It was a matured smile as if acknowledging my existence. I smiled back. But soon wore back my grumpy expression. The child might think that it’s easy to form friends. That all it takes is a smile. But it’s not that easy. I may complain that I am lonely but yet ironically it’s me who doesn’t want people to approach me, smile at me or think that I am an easy person.
Anyways, the lift seemed ages to reach its destination. 12 floor. 13th floor .. 14th floor, 15th floor. I had to reach before my maid arrives and finds a locked door as an excuse. Also I had to deliver critical code changes.
I was growing increasingly anxious.
Suddenly the lights went off, the lift jerked, and ….fell !
Yes we had a fall!
And the bottom base of the lift was tilted by 45 degree.
I was pushed down in the corner and the boy who was standing at the other corner came rolling to me.
I was afraid and held him tight. I knew that had a responsibility. It told myself that no matter what I was feeling that instant, I had to take care of the child. Console him, cajole him.
Just as I fondled his hair with my hand, he shifted and looked up to me and I saw the most bizarre site.
The child was smiling cheerfully. Actually 'laughing' would be the more appropriate word.
"What happened?" I said smiling despite myself.
Certain smiles are so,…so 'contagious', I couldn't help but get infected.
"It was one hell of a ride. Wasn't it?" He said.
"A Ride? Well yes, What a Ride." I said as if in a trance.
And he laughed again.
I had to laugh too. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it was not a funny situation. We could actually die.
"Tell me a story. " He said
"A story. I know no stories." I replied.
"Your story. Tell me your story. Ma says everybody has a story."
"My story… Well eh."
I was still clinging to him. I thought hard. What’s my story ? I was a good girl, got good grades, never caused anyone any trouble knowingly. But yet I was always troubled. A story has twists , turns, dreams , heartbreaks and a climax. If I die today, I would have had no story, except for how I died …unexpectedly,… in a lift.
For I always had nothing to look forward to, except short term deadlines. I had no dreams. I didn’t do anything out of the way. I was never truly happy. Come to think of it, I was so busy living that I actually missed living!
And then it happened again. I lift tumbled again. This time the other edge tilted 40 degrees and we came tumbling to that edge.
The child almost jumped with excitement.
"Its fun. Isn’t it ? Who could have thought a lift could shake and jiggle. Wait till tell everybody. "
Now what do I say to that.
He was so happy, so oblivious of what future might bring.
Suddenly, at that moment looking at his happy face. I felt at ease. If I am going to die now, the deadline for the project does not matter. I had no longer to worry about it. It seemed so frivolous.
The unwashed utensils were not a big deal.
At this moment, the present moment, I actually had no worries.
For all my worries, all my woes were either in the past or in the future. This moment, with me trapped in a lift with a little angel, was perfect, devoid of any shortcomings.
I smiled to myself. I felt so unburdened. The stress, the anxiety, the load on my head was gone. I was at peace.
This moment was just too perfect to ruin it by thinking about future.
I observed my surrounding, the lift in detail. It was all shining and steely. I never had to time to look at it thoroughly although I used it multiple times a day.
"Why can’t you always be like that ?" asked the child interrupting my ‘observational’ meditation.
"The way you are right now it’s good. You seem angry other times."
I smiled again and held him tight.
"What’s your story? " I asked him.
"I am still writing it. Each day I do something good and tell it to my Ma who writes it in my journal, I don’t yet know how to write sentences. Though, I know how to write three letter words."
"What do you want to be when you grow up?" I asked him smiling indulgently.
"A good person." he quipped.
Such simple yet profound answer. All my life I wanted to be someone I was not. A better earner. A better looking person. All that to earn other’s envy. So meaningless.
How simple and meaningful it would be to be what you are. A good person.
"Shall I sing?" I asked softly
"Are you good? "
I did not reply but started singing a sweet lullaby, my favorite aunt used to sing to me.
"Life is gift. Don’t use it cause rift. Oh it’s so swift ! Did you see it pass? Lets grab it before its gone off …..To a faraway land, with dunes and sand…."
I always wanted to sing it but never actually did. I thought people might find me silly.
And now I was enjoying singing it.
And so was the child.
Another jerk and the lift's base was back to normal. I freed the child from my embrace but held his hand nevertheless
A few seconds later the lift's door opened. We were a feet below the 16th floor level, and we could see a guard and a pale looking lady ready to receive us.
"MA !" cried my little friend. He broke free from me and climbed up to hug his mother who I could see was fighting her tears bravely.
I gathered my purse and laptop and climbed up to the floor level.
I looked at the mother child duo, who were so lost in each other that I decided against saying a good bye to my little friend.
However, just as I started towards the stairs, the mother turned toward me and gave me thankful look with a small smile.
She had acknowledged me without saying word and we had formed a ‘connection’ then and there.
How strange, sometime spoken words cannot help you get as close as unspoken communication can.
I gave her a silent salute in my mind and proceeded.
I was still smiling.
It seemed that the being trapped was the key to my liberation.
I never felt so comfortable with myself and my surrounding people as I did that day.
I decide to break my life into moments and live each moment fully because these moments are perfect devoid of any shortcomings.