I have come to believe that each one of us, at a certain point in our lives, experiences a phase where an overwhelming emotion of uncertainty and directionlessness becomes exceedingly compelling.
So every now and then, when encountered with self-doubt, I often resort to indulging in a light conversion with people around me to simply indulge my mind with their tales of their courageous decisions to their disastrous mistakes.
On one such day, I was locked out of my house, so I waited at the front lawn of my apartment complex for my mother to return. As I sat, not far from one of the watchman on duty that day, enjoying the mild winter sun, I noticed an unusual composure on the old man’s face with a humble smile surfacing behind his crooked teeth and a rather comical mustache.
Few moments passed but that smile remained undeterred. I walked up to him and asked what made him happy, to which he responded, “The fact that I am still alive..”
This was Mr. Ram Vilas Singh, a regular watchman at Air India Apartments who shared with me the journey through his glorious days serving in the Indian Army.
It was in the year 1971, when the Bihar battalion, where Mr. Ram Vilas was serving, was ordered to participate in the Bangladesh Liberation war against Pakistan.
“When you are in a war, you’re in true sense of the word, staring into the face of death. Even amidst thousands of bullets being fired around you and watching your comrades loose their limbs and often their lives in the span of a second. A soldier still continues to follow orders and move forward in the battlefield.”
Despite that image he painted being quite petrifying, Mr. Ram Vilas grinned with immense pride narrating the life he led as an army man.
“Although we had our fair share of fun playing football and rifle shooting, I loved the discipline the most! The rank of a soldier, regardless of the age, is always honored as it should be by one and all.”
Unfortunately, as fate would have it, his soul-satisfying experience came to an end, and Mr. Ram Vilas had to return back to his home in Chhapra following the demise of his parents, to support his family leading the life of a farmer.
“You cannot evade destiny, but no part of it makes me unhappy. We had our ancestral land to practice on and I gladly fulfilled my duty watching my children and grandchildren grow!”
These 30 years as a farmer yielded what Mr. Ram Vilas cherishes dearly , all four of his daughters are happily married today, one of his son works in an export house in Delhi while another as an engineer in Dubai, both his grandchildren in college and his dear wife living in comfort with their land being handled by another family he employed.
I was confused. Despite receiving a relatively stable income for their land and both his established children, why did the 71-year-old man feel the need to uproot himself from the satisfying life in Chhapra and work in the ruthless capital city?
The humble man put an end to my curiosity with his kind words, “I wish to give my family till my body gives up.”
It’s not hard to guess that the average security officials guarding apartment complexes can barely make ends meet with their hard earned income, but this man makes sure to transfer a large sum of that amount equally to his daughter-in-law and his grandchildren’s accounts as pocket money sverigeautomaten mobil!
“I carry the lessons I learned while in defense with me, and have nothing but those to pass on to my family; life is a march, and the only direction you should move, is onward.”
This heartening story of a soldier turned watchman, Mr. Ram Vilas Singh makes one wonder if we ever viewed our often overstated complexities with such ease as this man did, doesn’t it?
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