Their silent prayer

There is a pristine touch of philosophy in every soul, borne out of human bondage.

‘Life begins with a voice and ends in silence’, it is said. In this tiny span of time lies the saga of human struggle for gainful existence, sucked into the turbulent vortex of success and failures, happiness and sorrows, love and hatred, hope and despair and myriad vicissitudes that human life bumps into before it attains the blissful silence.

The learned and enlightened ones sail through this arduous journey with a balming touch of philosophy while the lesser beings bear it all in their own strides. Nevertheless, there is a pristine touch of philosophy in every soul, borne out of human bondage, which lights up even the most humble ones that are not fortunate enough to be exposed to higher echelons of learning.

I cannot forget a singularly touching incident, which my father often recalled, that took place while he served as a young amaldar during very early 1900s in Mysore. An amaldar of those days, vested with administrative and judicial powers, was the live link between the people of the taluk and the State Governing Council headed by the Maharaja. Father meticulously maintained close interaction with people of the area under his charge to acquaint himself with their problems. It was at this juncture that he learnt that a poor nonagenarian farmer in a nearby village had died leaving behind his ailing wife, with no offspring to take care of her. He rode to her place on his horse (that was the transport amaldars used those days to reach the remote villages) thinking all the way as to how exactly and with what words to console the bereaved elderly woman.

Before father could utter a few customary consoling words, she stunned him by telling that god was kind enough to take away her old man earlier, heeding her silent prayers! “I could never think of him living alone without me” she explained. “I woke him up daily and helped him with his morning ablutions and thereafter I took my food after he finished his and I followed this ritual in everything he did till I put him to bed at night. Tell me, sir, could he have survived if I had been selfish enough to precede him just because I am tired and ailing?  Would god have pardoned me? Now I can leave this world peacefully and join him up there!”

Profound words of philosophy, indeed, from a humble soul! More than a century has passed since then and many things have changed in this world making life highly materialistic-- but nothing has affected this irrepressible divine instinct. As things turned out, it was now my turn to experience the kind of feeling which my father did then. A close family friends of ours, very loving and intensely attached octogenarian couple, settled in Delhi with no offspring, had visited us a couple of months ago during which each of them had separately confided in us a similar apprehension that had been individually tormenting them.

This time the Lord of Kedarnath did respond to their silent prayers—they perished, perhaps hand-in-hand, in the recent unprecedented Uttarakhand deluge, merging together untraced with the elements of Nature!

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