The walk to station was filled with visions of work and thoughts of intricacies of the corporate culture. Once again, I thought “I was not born to do this!” I was plagued with self-doubt over my career plan, over my current position, my long term goals, my financial condition, in short everything and anything negative. The 10 minute walk elevated my pessimism and reduced my morale. Even the normally chirpy songs on my Ipod were of no effect. I soon switched them to Hemant Kumar & co.
The transformation was complete.
The train thankfully was empty (at least according to Bombay standards). The emptiness in the compartment seemed to reflect my inner emptiness. There were a lot of thoughts floating around in my fuzzy mind. The lack of ambition, some social faux pas, the emotional barrenness, the purposelessness of my existence were some of the threads in the mind. It wouldn’t need a psychologist to diagnose a bout of mild depression.
The non-depressed portion of my brain was sending out SOS by the dozen. Some mood alleviator hormone must have been triggered temporarily which suggested me to go and stand near the door. The rush of wind against your face is always a feel-good factor, I reasoned. Instead of the usual ‘Born to be wild’ (by Mars Bonfire) song which comes to my head when the wind rushes past your head, I could only hear the thoughts floating and hovering. They were pulling me back into the abyss of melancholy and misery. My eyes had a far away glazed look in them and nothing was in focus.
Suddenly a foul smell emanated and shook me from my stupor. What I saw or to be more precise, what I perceived was a whole populace living in between the train tracks. Though I had been passing through this area for the last 6 months, the scene had never registered with me. I could see children lying on the tracks, men ambling on, teenagers puffing on their beedis, women sitting and tying their daughter’s hair. Despite the sully environment, they looked at peace, if not content. What is their secret, I wondered?
Suddenly in a flash, I remembered the Gandhiji’s talisman. Some random synapse must have triggered the memory retrieval. The same talisman which used to be printed on the front page of our NCERT text books. The same talisman which we once read and never understood. The same talisman which was forgotten in the rush for marks, money and power. I remembered the talisman and a feeling of peace came over me. It was an awe-inspiring moment in the most unlikely of places. I felt at one with myself. The dragon of reservations and fears within myself were slain by the shining knight with his weapon of the talisman. I took a deep breath and mumbled a word of gratitude to Gandhiji. Though I may not subscribe to his political views, I had been turned into an instant fan of his spiritual outlook of life. I understood then that no matter what we do or what we become, there will always be some time when the self is in need of a crutch. That time, your spirit and your mind will come to the rescue.
"I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away.