Thursday, June 12, 2008

Work was his true passion

Work was his true passion

"Sir, please help me locate the seminar room."

I turned around and was surprised to see

a humble,

frail old man wearing a dhoti,

with a walking stick.

Wondering what he was doing here
I offered to help him up the stairs.
But he shrugged his shoulders and remarked,
"having come all the way from Mirzapur
this is child's play for me."

The air was festive.
Eminent and colourful personalities were present,
yet something about this simple old man caught my eye.

I caught up with him at the food pandal
and over a cup of coffee elicited a few details.
His name was Dr Shyam Narain Pande.
This 84-year-old veteran was
a retired Professor from Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh.

Although he had retired several decades back
he was active in the academic circuit.
With a hint of guilt
I also remembered my incomplete research thesis
lying in a corner of my study table.
The next few days found him
an earnest participant at the sessions.
He moved from one venue to another.
Although he must have found it exhausting, his child like enthusiasm was infectious,.

"What is it that keeps you ticking?" I asked.
"You travelled all the way from U.P
by second class train, all alone."
He looked at me in the eye and quoted Khalil Gibran.
"Work is love made visible.
For me my work is a passion, a way of life.
It is not related to money or fame."
He told me old tales of his poverty ridden childhood
and how he fought against the odds.
In his youth he took an oath at
Swami Vivekananda's Belur Math
that he would work relentlessly in the
pursuit of truth in history.

The three-day programme to an end,
and since I was tired I decided to take leave.
At ten in the morning my phone rang.
It was from security.
"An old man with faltering footsteps
has come to meet you at the room.
Before leaving,
Shyam Narain had brought me
a copy of his research paper.
Climbing the two flights of stairs to my room
must have been an ordeal for him.
His passion simply amazed me!
This chance meeting set me thinking.

Today how many among us find
a higher meaning in our jobs?
Can we match the zest and enthusiasm shown
by Shyam Narain in his work?
Very often,
earning one's livelihood is limited
to a nine-to-five workday and a monthly paycheque.
But truly it encompasses a larger reality.
Our work does not merely support us,
it defines us, and it links us to society.

Thinkers like Karl Marx have commented
on this intertwining of work and worker,
"tell me what you do and I will tell you who you are".
Today our youngsters
are taught that the only kind of job
worth doing is one that will get you
a fat pay cheque every month.
Somewhere in this propaganda and the tangle of schools, colleges, coaching classes and entrance exams,
their dreams are sandpapered away.

A nation is not made up of its people's salaries;
it is made up of their hopes.
This is the soul of a nation.
Let us not forget that had a young lawyer
in South Africa not given up his job,
he would have remained only M.K.Gandhi,
not the Mahatma.
Let each child be given the freedom
to select his calling,
because he must love his work only then can
he do justice to it.
Only then can we have more
Shyam Narain Pandes in our society.

With love from--
Take care
Have a nice day

posted by: ?*?I am Legend?*?