These days the television is too full of contests of all kinds. Almost every T.V. channel is trying to find a musical talent for our country. I really admire the courage and determination of the contestants taking part in these contests. It cannot be so easy to go out there on national television and perform.
And yet, I remember quite a different sort of musical contest that must have required much greater courage from its contestants, and a far stronger determination as well.
It was the game of Antakshri, being played among only three people. A twelve year old Nepali boy, whose only chance of survival lay in the success of the kidney transplant operation, his father, who was to be the kidney donor and his mother, the only caretaker they could afford to bring along.
They were alone, battling a serious illness and far away from their home and country. They must have been scared, they must have been troubled. And yet, night after night, sitting in a grim ward of AIIMS, they stuck to their daily routine of singing songs and playing Antakshri.
The parents knew that destiny may soon snatch away their only son from them. But instead of making the hard time even harder, they chose to squeeze out every little drop of joy from the rapidly passing moments. They could have easily languished into miserable thoughts, sorrows and worries. But instead, they smiled, they played and they sang. All that the parents cared for was to keep their son happy. And all that the son cared for was to light up a smile on his parents’ face, while he still could.
Perhaps, they were just deluding themselves and turning away from reality. Maybe, there was nothing deliberate about their striving for happiness. It might just have been the power of their love and faith in God that was keeping their spirits up. But deliberate or not, they made me feel how much better it is to share a moment of joy with your loved ones while you still can, instead of drowning all your time in misery.
They stayed in the general ward only for a week. Then the boy was shifted to an isolated room and I, another patient in the same ward, didn’t see him again. I don’t know what happened to the boy. I hope his operation was successful and that he survived to sing many more songs with his whole family.
Now, after so many years, I don’t even remember his name. What I would never forget however is how they fought against fear and with their untrained voices and imperfect songs, won a battle far harder than any musical contest participant would ever have to face. It was not any reality TV show, but reality itself.
And reality, at best, is still more unpredictable than any TV contest. And far more difficult.
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