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Previous Story: The Journey Within

Perceptions of PeaceFor the umpteenth time, Rosh awakened from the nightmares that tormented him, shaken and visibly shaking. Sweat lined his brows.

The clinical smell of the hospital disinfectant wafted into his nostrils, helping him regain his bearing. He felt safe awake. He felt safe alive

‘Why, oh why?’ questions raced in again. ‘Why had it happened to him? Had he been greedy? Too ambitious? Too reckless? Had he deserved what had happened to him?’

He didn’t think so, though he knew others would disagree. The season of recriminations would come, he knew.

Accusations, well-intentioned suggestions and critiques would pour in from near and far, if he survived.

Fame is fickle; he knew that from bitter experience. People change like the wind. What they giveth, they taketh away.

That is why he had tried after his school debacle, not to focus too much on what people said. But man doesn't live solitary on an island. He lives in this world, surrounded by society.

To be successful, one must care enough about others, and about what others say or do. Caring is an essential ingredient, without which success just cannot be brewed.

So, he had immigrated. Cocooned himself away from the world that knew him, continuing to rebuild his life. And his world.

He had wanted peace. Success. Prosperity. Wanted his family to be comfortable. But on his own terms. From his own effort. Living his life his way, without further help or interference. That had been the bottom-line.

And he had created wealth. Today whatever he had, or rather whatever he had left, had been created from his own sweat and blood. He felt contentment in that. A sense of fulfilment.

His kids were doing well. They were healthy. And they were good kids. He was healthy, and so was his wife. His parents were healthy. They will survive this crash too, he knew. And God still loved him.

‘Don’t you Lord?’ he asked. ‘Then why do I feel like such a failure? Why do I feel like I have let you down? That I have let everyone down? Like my life has been a sheer waste.’

‘You gave me so many leaves. I have frittered them all away. What was it that you had wanted from me? Why didn’t you give me the strength and direction, to do what you had wanted me to do?’

As he floated in and out of consciousness, talking to his God as he had done on countless other occasions in his life, long-forgotten words from Dan Schutte’s famous Christian hymn came to the fore again, inside his being:

I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin, My hand will save.

He lifted his hand, unaware that his limbs hadn’t physically moved at all, and mumbled soundlessly:

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard, you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.

It was strange, but it seemed that his whisper had been heard. The words sounded closer now, louder:

I, who made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I send?

Light flowed into his tormented soul, devouring his deep inner darkness. His unmoving lips murmured:

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard, you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.

But he had let Him down before. He remembered now, how he had walked away almost two decades ago, when Mother Theresa had asked him to serve.

But he, focused on his nuclear family, had walked away. And done nothing for his global family. For the whole world is but one family. वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम (Vasudhaev kutumbkam). Words permeated his soul, probing, wanting to be sure:

I, the Lord of snow and rain, I have borne my people’s pain.
I have wept for love of them. They turn away.

He felt His pain. It filled him with a sense of purpose. No, he will not walk away again. He had Isha’s understanding. He was ready to follow, but how? Where? Yet, he felt His peace, as he answered:

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard, you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.

Like a storm sweeping up sands in the desert, a rising crescendo of music surrounded his soul and lifted it high. He heard the words. Just the words. And nothing else. He was in the eye of the vortex:

I will break their hearts of stone, Give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak my words to them. Whom shall I send?

His spirit rose. He did not know what lay ahead, what he would do, but it didn’t matter. He vowed:

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard, you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.

Gently, the tempest lowered him down, back onto his bed. Reassuring, guiding words illuminated him:

I, the Lord of wind and flame, I will send the poor and lame.
I will set a feast for them. My hand will save.

He knew now, what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. Serve! He called back, his spirit freed:

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard, you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.

The sounds drifted away, but the promise hung in the air like perfume, expelling the stench around him:

Finest bread I will provide, ‘til their hearts be satisfied.
I will give my life to them. Whom shall I send?

A silent strength engulfed him. He called back with confidence, his soul resonating with resilience again:

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard, you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.

He lay back then, and slept like a baby. Rid of guilt and fear, rid of greed and ambition, rid of success and failure, rid of life and death. Becoming was dead, being had begun.


Next Story: Finding My Way

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