A relaxed morning. Both my husband and son have taken off for the day. I sit on the living room sofa, looking forward to a lively discussion with my husband about moving to our new house. He seems lost in thought as he sips his cup of tea. I ask, “What are you thinking about?” fully aware that his thoughts are on the same lines as mine. “Nothing” comes the reply. I think about it. The whole lot of work to done, the EMIs, the endless problems of moving to a new place are all nothing?
A few hours later, I find my son sitting in front of the computer, frantically tapping his fingers on the keyboard. I question him, “What are you doing?” Again I get the reply “Nothing, amma.” So, playing a computer game is a nothing. That’s good.
Later in the day, I go to buy vegetables. As I descend the stairs, I meet my landlord who is an ex-soldier and is proud of his robust health. He has a bandage on one hand. I ask him, “What happened to your hand?” “Oh, it’s nothing, just a small wound.” Ok, one more thing added to my list. A wound also comes under nothing.
Around the corner, I meet my old friend and start a conversation. “Heard your mom-in-law is not keeping well?” She waves her hand passively, “Nothing, she’s just acting up, so she doesn’t have to work.” I count mentally. Diabetes, high blood pressure and host of other associated problems- all coming under the one word, nothing. My list is simply growing.
As I pass the nearby school, I see a boy in his uniforms, talking to a girl. Girlfriend probably, though I am not an expert on such things. All of a sudden, his teacher approaches from the other side and the boy quickly turns away. “What are you doing here?” shouts the teacher. “Nothing, ma’m.” There it goes again. I mentally scream, ‘Run away, girl. Talking to you means nothing to this boy. Run as fast as you can.’ Anyway, my problem still remains. I can’t handle the list anymore.
As I walk I keep thinking about just one thing-nothing. Sages have said, there is nothing in this world. Were their thoughts same as mine? Am I becoming a sage? No, not at this age.
In the shop, I overhear a conversation between two men. One says “You are going to your hometown at this time of the year? What’s the matter?” I stand still, expecting a nothing in reply. “It is a property issue. My relatives have filed a case against me.” I am overjoyed. I have hit the end of the road. Finally, something other than nothing. But my joys are short-lived as he continues, “It’s nothing. I have dealt with bigger problems in the past.” Man, why did you have to break my heart?
Finally, with an air of acceptance, I move on. I have come to terms with the reality. Nothing can escape nothing. Slowly, acceptance turns into enlightenment. Yes, this is pure enlightenment. There is nothing in the world like nothing. It covers anything and everything under the sun. Fresh thought. Pure wisdom. I am an enlightened being. So, what am I doing in the vegetable shop? Every great man has endured such mundane things at some point in his life, I tell myself.
With an inner smile, happy thoughts and bulging shopping bags, I go back. Maybe, the smile radiated a bit outside also. My neighbor asks me “Looking so happy! Something special in your bag?” I grab the opportunity and reply “Yes, it’s 2 kg of nothing, 1 kg of another nothing and half kg of yet another nothing.” She stares at me for a while and walks away. Now, do I sound abnormal? A little, very little?