Sunday, November 23, 2008


Back in the days of me reading Tinkle, there was one short moral story which till date I haven’t forgotten. It went like this:

A king on his way to palace sees a poor man toiling away hard, hitting rocks with hammer, day in and day out, amidst bushes and thorns and sharp stones. Overcome by the poor man’s dedication and commitment to work, the king gave him lots of jewels as a token of appreciation. Overnight the poor man became a rich man.

The now rich man buys himself the best clothes and starts living a lavish life. Soon after, when the king was again going on the same way, he sees the now rich man, dressed royally, sitting on the rock, nursing his finger and apparently resting. When the king asks what happened, the now rich man says he was prick by a thorn and there was a small dot of blood on his fingers due to which he cannot work.

The king then realizes what ill effects money has on man. While the poor man used to toil hard amidst the same thorns for the sake of earning bread, the same man starts complaining of minor things when he attains the next stage of life and is uplifted monetarily.

This made me realize - apart from whatever the king realized - that the intensity and vagaries of a struggle become evident only when it is past and when the next level of comfort is achieved. Till then, it does not even occur that one is struggling, because such kind of toil is accepted as a way of leading life and taken easily for granted.

There are many instances that can be quoted. Nowadays, almost everyone has a mobile phone. To think of a life without cell phone suddenly seems so difficult and so unimaginable. And yet, men lived without it for centuries. The future generation – who are born with laptops and cell phones as toys – will soon be remarking how the olden generation were struggling in life without cell phones in the then era!

We all used to go to school or college by walk or cycle or public transport. Day after day after day after day. Monotonously. A long 30 minute haste walk, an uphill cycle ride, an overcrowded bus – all that seems so much of struggle as compared to driving to office in an AC car now or even going in the plush company bus with added cushion for extra comfort.

Similarly, carrying the backpacks to school seems such a struggle as against taking one notebook to college. Cramming for studies for monthly internal college exams seems such a struggle when going to office. Retirement seems such a pleasure after decades of office going struggle. So on and so forth…

Most of our older generations, immediately after independence, have really struggled to set up and sustain a family. People have fled villages and come to major towns in search of a job. There have been instances also of starving because of lack of money, of walking miles together and of cycling from one part of the town to another instead of commuting in bus due to lack of money.

Our own parents have gone through these hardships at one point of time. All of this seems so much of a struggle, and yet, at that point of time in their life, they wouldn’t have thought of it as a struggle. It was just a mere way of life, of existence. Question of whether it was hard or struggle or not just wouldn’t have occurred to them as there really was no other option. But on hindsight when life is being good, one remembers all of those instances and wonders how one ‘struggled’ so much!

Ditto will be the case with us. The simple tasks we are doing now will be even simplified so much more in the coming generations that a time will come when the next generations will be wondering how much we oldies struggled!

So. Are we struggling? Or are we not?!


nikhilraikar said...

Very well written and so true.

I never thought my house (in Mumbai) was small until I came to Bangalore. Desktops were boon to mankind until laptops appeared. Same abt dial-up internet --> DSL --> Broadband --> Wireless.

Boy!!! You brought back some difficult (but still very pleasant) memories.


Praveen Mayakar said...

We shall not forget the way we came in. But in fact history is more boring than present/future's thrill. Life will still have its lessons taught

janani said...

Thats a nice way of interpreting the story!

I think this is what we can call as evolution. In the stone age, people were probably hunting with sharp stones and rocks until somebody invented the spear/knife, then came fire then the wheel (not sure about the chronology). At each stage people are constantly improvising and innovating to make life "easier" for mankind (a little sarcasm if i make us lazier :)). This is bound to happen and is happening. As long as we are not aware of the fact that life can be "easier" than this (present) i guess we are safe, if we start thinking of either the past or the future we are in for trouble (read as struggle)!

Read this quote somewhere...
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”