What we really “need”.

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Being a mere autorickshaw driver wasn’t what Govind expected from his life. At 43 years of age, he had a loving wife and two adorable kids. He was able to provide them with a decent living, but devoid luxury of any kind. Nevertheless, they were a very close-knit family. His younger child had just joined school, and his older one was in class V.

One morning, Govind was feeling particularly dismayed at how things had turned out when his wife, Neeta came up to him and said, “Can you come home early tonight? There is a puja at our temple and we must attend that.”

“No,” he said shortly. “Why should I waste my time praying to God when he believes in so much inequality?”

Surprised, Neeta said, “Is anything wrong?”

“Of course, something is wrong! Look at us, look at our house. This is not what I had in mind for us,” yelled Govind.

“I don’t know what has gotten into you. I’m attending the puja with the children, and you can come if you want to,” replied Neeta and walked away.

That day, Govind stormed out of his house, and got into his auto. Another meaningless day of deprivation, thought Govind, as he started the engine.

His first customer, that day, were two teen girls. They wanted to go to a mall nearby.

“What do you want to buy today?” asked one friend to the other.

“Does it really matter?” she asked, pulling out a cigarette. “My parents don’t really care about what I do, so I have stopped caring too.” 

“Yeah, good thing we have a credit card. Atleast we get some happiness from the things we buy.”

As they paid him for the fare, Govind looked at them. They looked so happy on the outside, with all their rich-looking dresses and shoes, but inside, they were not even close to happy. He started his auto again, to search for a new customer.

His next customer was a man who wanted to go to the new fancy MNC building that opened up a few months back. Govind envied his distinguished suit and expensive mobile phone on which he kept texting. His customer then, received a call.

“Look, Naresh, I told you. If ExCorp wants to play tough, so shall we. Make sure everything is ready for the presentation, we need to complete it by tonight.”

Govind took a right turn, as his customer continued talking on the phone. “I know it’s my wedding anniversary tonight, but my wife will have to understand, work comes first. I cannot help it. You go ahead and set everything up, I’m on my way.”

Govind thought about his last anniversary. They didn’t do much, but Neeta made his favourite dishes and they spent the entire night talking. As he collected the fare, he had a smug smile. You can strut all you want with your fancy clothes and phone, but atleast I spend my anniversary with my wife, he thought to himself. However, he felt bad for the way he yelled at Neeta earlier.

The rest of the day passed on uneventfully. At lunch time, he opened his tiffin box and found a picture drawn by his youngest kid which said “My daddy is the best.” Govind had a tear in his eye, as he smiled to himself.

He was on his way back, when he saw a young boy waving out frantically for a ride. Govind stopped and the boy got on. He wanted to go to the beach. Just as Govind went a little further, he heard a woman’s voice scream, “NO, STOP!” Shocked, Govind stopped the auto. The lady was the boy’s mother.

“Where do you think you are going?” she cried out hysterically.

“I DON’T KNOW, mom. Somewhere far away from you and your drunkard new husband.”

“No, no, please don’t go, Rishab. You know I love you, right?”

The boy laughed. “Oh love? Really, mom? Do you even know how I spend my nights in that big empty house of ours while you are out with your husband?”

“Please, come inside,” said the lady, looking at Govind. “We can talk inside, Rishab, please.”

“I will not enter the house of your husband because he made it very clear that I am unwelcome and that it is his house, so fine, I am going away,” yelled the boy, his eyes welling up.

Govind could see that they were quite well-off. Yet, again, they were so caught-up with their problems. Somehow, the lady calmed the boy enough to take him back.

He checked the time. It was 7.30pm. He made his way back to his home and found Neeta getting ready.

“You came,’ she said. “How are you feeling now?”

“You know,” he said, smiling. “For the first time, life doesn’t seem so bad after all, because when it comes to a choice between want and need, one must always choose the latter.”

Neeta smiled. “And?”

“And, I don’t need anything else in life as long as I have you and the kids,” replied Govind.

 

Chasing materialistic pleasures, we have truly lost contact with the simplicity of life.” – Paulo Coelho.

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Technological Black Hole

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Every year before my birthday, I save up some money. I donate half of it to Help Age India and spend the remaining half on myself. I usually like to go alone when I go to spend that money. So, that’s what I did today. The primary idea behind going alone was because I like observing people. Not like a creepy stalker, but just as a curious dreamer. The mall was mainly filled with families since its a holiday for most people. Conventionally, the idea of spending time with one’s family, fills the mind with images of people having meals together, laughing, chatting and updating each other about the happenings in their lives. And that is how it should be ideally. However, what I saw today was contrasting. Families sitting together for meals were either all typing away on their smartphones/tablets or playing Angry Birds. Technology is overpowering us so much that we find it hard now to spare approximately a minimum of three hours’ undivided attention towards our families. I wish I could say my family time was different, but sadly, no. Although we might talk for sometime, ultimately everybody turns to their smartphones for entertainment. This constant dependence on technology is somewhat scary. It is killing real-time conversations and interactions. 

Like a black hole, this technological black hole (or Tech Hole) is sucking humanity in, using technology as a bait. We humans do not know when to stop. I can’t remember the last time we all sat with people at a table without touching our phones even once. Slowly enough, this Tech Hole is just growing bigger and bigger. I am not saying that technology isn’t beneficial. That would only be stupid, because it is extremely advantageous. However, we must know where to draw the limit, in order to reap the maximum benefits. 

Earlier during festivals, people genuinely engaged in gift-giving. Now, we only receive a text message, or if we’re lucky, a phone call. And of course, the people who voraciously tag thousands of people in a picture on Facebook with ‘Happy Diwali’ or ‘Happy New Year’. Even if people exchange gifts, they only try to out-do each other. If ‘A’ gifts ‘B’ something worth Rs. 1000, ‘B’ would want to gift something worth Rs. 1500. This apparently seals their ‘high’ status in society. Competition in the workplace is understandable, not in such cases. Very few people gift only because they really want to, and I applaud such people. The way festivals are celebrated have become mechanical too, as everything is carefully planned so that a lot of pictures can be uploaded on Facebook or Instagram. Different poses, different backgrounds. Again, I don’t mean everybody does it this way. But the people who celebrate festivals only for the heck of it, please get a life outside Facebook. 

Anyway, festivals are meant to be enjoyed to the fullest and so is family life. Family life is highly underrated so do give it the importance it requires. We’re only human so it is okay to have faults. How we improve ourselves is what matters. I am going to try and curb my texting habits and spend more time making real memories, not memories on Facebook. Stay safe, and Happy Dashami 🙂