Not just another Saturday
Saturday, 6th September 2008:
The climate was pleasant and cloudy. My parents were up early and were already munching away on the breakfast. It was Saturday and i wanted to to continue sleeping for most of the day. Having watched ‘Music and Lyrics’ on HBO, another late night movie on World Movies on Friday night; waking up early seemed like a difficult task. My sister however had other plans. She wanted to visit a temple. She had been trying to wake me and was shouting on top of her voice. Adding to that was the Cuckoo bird menace, Which of course turned into a feeling of guilt the next day.
She had been to Mumbai for some kind of a training programme for over 3 months, and was back in Chennai only about a month back. It had been a long time since we had visited the temple, Its a beautiful temple but is far from the city. She wanted to go there, My parents were not fully against it too. I was sleepy, being up as early as 8am freaked me out as I started to quarrel with my sister. Slowly the quarrel turned into a fight. An unpleasant one. Already awake, I decided to apologize and then we decided to go to the temple. It was a cloudy day, the 30km bike ride seemed like a pleasant one.
We reached the temple at around 11am. This temple happens to be a ‘Tirth’ and is expected to be full with people most of the time, To our surprise we were the only people in the temple. It was wonderful and silent, It was the best getaway experience I’ve experienced for some time. There is this beautiful temple that forms the centre of the ‘Tirth’. Though, it is still under construction, it was one of the most beautiful temples in the tirth. The silence in the temple was missing as there was noise of the workers tapping away on the art work in the temple. Every single piece these people had created are a work of art in itself. While i walked out of the temple, I asked my dad about what his thoughts were about the kind of work these guys did.
“These workers come from Rajasthan”, he said.
” I already know that” I said to myself.
Lost in thought i started thinking about the life of these people. ‘These temples would take years to be built and given the fact that even the minutest of detail is given importance, this work would take forever. This meant that these people would be separated from their homes for a long long time.’
“What do these people get paid?” I enquired.
“Not much”, he said. “May be a few thousands a month”.
What?? Did he say ‘Only a few Thousands’. These people work day and night, They stay away from the family for years, And what they are paid is no comparison to what i get paid. I sit in a air conditioned office, I do work that is no pain. I have been provided with the best of environments to work with, but still i get paid a lot more compared to these people. A strange feeling filled my heart.
I started thinking about the lives of the soldiers. The salaries they are paid are even bad, given the kind of work they do. Living life for months in the enemy territory and not worrying about the family is one real job. They are the real heroes, they are the real role models. What they get paid is no comparison to the amount of money we extract form the clients. Why??
My father Answered: “That’s Life, Just because u carry a decent degree u have a value in the society. These people are less educated and they form the larger percentage of people and therefore have to work for whatever they get. That’s just life”… Hmmm, May be that’s just life, But these guys have something to return back to the society. Be it in the form of Art work or by way of protecting our lives. I receive a fat pay check, so i should be contributing a lot more back into the society. A feeling of guilt creeped in.
Another person i know who works hard to earn money is the ‘Sabjivali’ (The vegetable vendor) who comes to my house as early as 7 am to sell vegetables. She happens to travel from some remote village. She takes the train in the morning as early as 4am to reach the city. Then she walks over 5kms to reach our apartment. Imagine what it would be like with all that weight on the head. I have seen my mom bargaining for 1 rupee with some grocery stores, but never had i seen my mom bargain with this lady. She also preferred to buy vegetables from this lady for a little higher price than buy vegetables from the already earning super markets, thus in a way helping the vendor. Mom was doing her part in helping somebody, What should i be doing?
All these questions about how i should be contributing back to the society occupied my mind. Inspired from Mom, I have stopped quarraling with people over prices, atleast with people who actually deserve more money for the effort. I have also been thinking of contributing big time by engaging in social service activity, yet i wonder if i would be anywhere closer to the kind of things these people do.