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“There are $14 left in our overdraft”, Isha whimpered, “The lowest credit balance we’ve ever had in our lives! That is not enough.”
“Our needs are not many”, Rosh noted a slight tremor beginning in his hands, but ignored it and focused on Isha instead, “We will manage.”
“We need thousands of dollars a day just to service our mortgages”, Isha carried on, ignorant of the warning signs that were beginning to surface in Rosh, “How will we manage?”
“We have each other”, Rosh answered, “Our children are growing well and will be successful soon. We have always lived within our means. It will be all right.”
“It will not be all right”, Isha was beginning to break down now, “We have no cash, no savings, no assets we can encash, and no hope of further borrowing.”
“Our liabilities are growing while our income and net worth continues to implode. Kids will also need money for their education. And the markets are still crashing as we speak.”
“Things will get better”, he comforted her, “This mayhem can’t last forever.”
“When?” she was astonished at his platitudes, “You’ve been saying this for over two years now. Japan’s been in recession for over 20. It can stay irrational for longer than we can stay solvent.”
“Don’t I know it now?” Rosh consoled her, “Leave it to God. There’s not much more I can do. What will be, will be.”
This was a new side to Rosh she was seeing. Maybe it was the hospital drugs still in him, but she had never seen him shy away from a fight before, never seen him fatalistic. It filled her with dread.
“God helps those who help themselves”, she said frantically, “He’s showing you a way, and you are not seeing it. Putting your head in sand won’t make the problem go away.”
Rosh was surprised to see his body begin to physically shiver in tandem with a growing agitation inside him. This had never happened before.
The alien tremors crept through his body, beginning to shake the foundations of his very being. He was completely aware of them now but helpless to do anything.
“Nature has contributed so much into making us who we are”, he answered quietly, “getting us to where we are. The time has come for me to start returning on its investment in us.”
“You will need funds for this project”, she tried to reason with him, “And you already owe millions! Where will you get them?”
“I can’t go back to work”, he said resolutely, “if that’s what you want. Not now. Not anymore. I’m done working for others. Don’t you understand?”
“Then what will you do?” she asked, completely unaware of the sickness that rose in him like mercury rising in a thermometer.
“What you promised I could do”, he replied, “You promised me the Kingdom of Heaven.”
“Yes I did”, Isha turned her face away in anguish, “But will you leave us to beg on the streets? While you illuminate the world. Why must Yashodharā always pay the price of Siddharth’s enlightenment?”
Her world was falling apart, and she with it. Rosh felt pity. He knew how hard it was going to be for her. But he had barely strength to keep himself together for the time being.
“I’m no Buddha”, he reached out to her, “His was the choice of a path. At a fork in the road. Taking one route precluded taking the others. They were mutually exclusive.”
“You can’t trek on a new street, if you keep trekking on the old. When Buddha chose to walk on the new way, the old way got left behind.”
“But I refuse to see my decision as a fork in the road of my life, as a choice between two paths. Without you, I won’t succeed anyway. For me to be truly free, you must set me free.”
“My nirvana is not possible without your permission, your acceptance, your blessing. When I married you, I took a vow to look after you, until I die.”
“I will not leave you, until you free me - of your own volition. Until I am confident that you are strong enough without me, provided for, and no longer need me.”
“But my freedom is what you had promised. That is what you must work towards. You promised better, we deserved better. Now do what you must, to make it happen. And so must I.”
“I won’t be taking on new responsibilities in place of the old ones. I’ll be taking them on along with the old ones. I’ll undertake my new duties, while I continue to discharge my existing duties.”
“But something’s got to give”, Hosh interrupted from the balcony, still staring into the future, “You can’t do the new stuff, if you keep doing all the old stuff as well. You will soon burn-out.”
“I will delegate” Rosh answered, looking in his direction, “Prioritize. We will need to work as a team. And together, we’ll have to let some of the old things go, to make way for the new.”
“We can’t have everything we want. And God won’t give me extra hours in the day, just because I want to do some good now.”
“How can doing good for others give you happiness?” she fought back, “if it is at the cost of doing what you must, for your own. Do you not feel any responsibility towards us now?”
‘Only when the tide goes out’, he realized, ‘do you know who’s been swimming naked.’
He had been swimming naked in the sea of life, and hadn’t known it himself. Ah! the Emperor’s new clothes. They had provided such illusory cover.
But now Life had beached him like a whale stranded on the shore. And he knew he was naked.
Next: The Four Candles