This story is selected as Editor’s Choice
“I want this report through before Sunday EOD.” Robin, my boss, said in his domineering tone, as usual. On a Friday evening, this hit me even bossier. My leisure weekend plan seemed being squashed mercilessly.
I vaguely attempted a rescue.
“Sir, I may need some more time. I think, I can submit it by Tuesday. I will try my best for earlier but, Tuesday for sure, sir.” Though it was futile, I tried to convey my reluctance to work on the weekend. I knew that he knew what I was saying. We both were reading between the lines and the eyes.
With a puny hope, I looked at him in anticipation of a green signal.
“Sunday! Your dead-line, if you know what I mean!” He said as he flapped his laptop down and started to leave for a meeting.
I was no saint; miracles don’t happen to ordinary people. He had always been a stubborn manager and he continued to master that.
“And yes!” He turned and said, “I am thinking to submit my inputs for your appraisal of the year, let’s say, on Sunday evening. This was just FYI.” He winked cruelly and left. He cleared all my doubts about him having an alternate career; a professional blackmailer.
I was annoyed. I came to my desk and muscularly right clicked, refreshed my desktop for about fifteen times. The mouse must be in pain. I used to apply this refresh-for-nothing process as a catalyst for my thoughts sometimes; however this time it was solely due to frustration. This was my way of getting rid of irritation. It didn’t help though. I was aggravated. My weekend was sacrificed. A weekend must not decide my appraisal for the entire year. It wasn’t fair. But I was no chooser, I was a loser. I had to give up my weekend. I surrendered. I decided to leave for the day and come early to work on Saturday morning.
When something is not going your way, the other things happily join in to upset you even more. When I reached parking, front right wheel of my car was punctured. I went closer to have a microscopic look, as if it would help. It didn’t. I took a pause, named the wheel Robin and kicked it hard. Right through my shoes, I could almost feel rubber on my toe.
I decided to leave car in the office parking for the night and take a cab. As I approached main road, another vinegary ingredient was added to my recipe of disappointment. It was raining heavily. I ran to take cover under a dense tree. I was not going to get a cab easily. Getting wet was adding to my annoyance big time.
Why always me? Why others have always got better jobs, better bosses, better pays, and better lives?
I could not stop pitying me. I had no reason to smile or be happy about. Having such a state of mind had become a frequent occurrence off late. It had started worrying me. My life, my wife and my kid were nowhere close to topping my list of priorities in dominance of professional nuisance. The disturbance had started getting to my nerves.
Lost in the thoughts, I had almost forgotten that I was yet to catch a cab and go home. The rain had got heavier and vision fuzzier.
Out of nowhere, I sensed some activity on the other side of the tree. Though I was conscious about not getting wet, out of curiosity, I went there, bowed a little to peek.
About ten feet away, under a tiny tin roof, I saw a little girl; about seven years old. In the beam of yellowish street light spread on her roof-home, I could see her in a dirty and dusty frock that originally would have been white. Her hair looked untidy. There was a black plastic bag lying by her side. She was sitting on a cardboard sheet which was spread fairly neatly.
She seemed busy with a puppy on her lap. Puppy was a stray just like the girl. It was a black puppy and had a big white patch on his forehead. He was enjoying cuddling with his little friend. Both of them appeared cozy and happy with each other.
Just as I was about to ignore, the girl turned to her plastic bag and started searching for something. She took a while before taking out a packet of bread. It was a half-empty packet with four-five pieces left. The bread looked old and stale.
She picked one out. She dusted the bread against her frock probably thinking it will make it fresher. She flipped the bread both sides, dusted again. The puppy was curiously observing with his tail rattling on the cardboard. She cut the bread in half as accurately and neatly as she could. She smiled and offered a half to the puppy who grabbed it and quickly munched. The girl examined her half for a moment; then ate it.
She fished out another bread slice from her packet and quickly wrapped up the remaining back in the black bag. She slid the bag safely under the cardboard. With naughtily smiling eyes, she held the bread’s corner in her mouth inviting the puppy to have the hanging feast. The puppy jumped a couple of times. She leaned back. Finally puppy managed to grab the hanging end and pulled to cut it to half. The girl laughed and hugged the puppy tight. Her laughter was carefree. I had not realized; my eyes wet moist.
I had not thought about my office, my frustration, my irritation even for a moment since I was watching this little girl.
She did not want what I wanted. She had nothing that I had. She did not even have issues that I had; conversely she had larger ones. With all this said, she had what I lacked; the spirit to be happy, the intention to smile. She had an ability to find a reason to laugh.
She had unknowingly taught me a lesson, a priceless lesson. Happiness does not depend on what you have; it depends on how you perceive what you have. If she could laugh in the situation she was in, who was stopping me? Me, Myself!
I ran to the restaurant nearby and bought a meal pack. I went to the girl and offered it to her. She looked at me with a smile. Her eyes were tired but her heart wasn’t.
“Thanks” I said. I did not pity her. I offered her food with gratitude.
She reciprocated the feelings with a grin and took the pack from me.
She curiously opened it and started enjoying her meal. She invited puppy to join her at dinner. They were happy. I was happy.
With a whole new perception of life, I started walking in rain. Yes, I was smiling. I had no worry of getting wet anymore. I had learnt stealing a smile, by choice, from little moments of life.
Angels may not always have wings and may not emerge from sky; they may just be by the roadside under a tin roof in a dusty frock!