Friday, September 26, 2008
WORK IS WORSHIP!
While replying to a comment on my last blog, I was suddenly reminded of an incident that took place in 1985, the year our son was born.
Our son was born on 18 May 85. That year, I was posted in Gorakhpur, but deployed in Leh since April. I had come to Delhi for his birth and went back to Leh on the next day. I finished my tour in June 85 and came to fetch my family - my wife, daughter - 5 years, and son - one month plus, and our dog - Tootsie, a Lhasa Apso. I came to Chandigarh, and bought my first car - the good old Ambassador. We had a lot of luggage and we had to travel from Chandigarh to Gorakhpur, via Delhi, where my in-laws lived. The summer was at its peak and car ACs were not so popular. So we decided to travel early mornings. Chandigarh to Delhi was a short trip and was thus no problem.
From Delhi my sister in law vounteered to come with us to help us with the settling in phase. We left Delhi in the early morning with our luggage loaded in the dicky and on the carrier on top of the car, and three adults, two children and one dog inside the car. The journey from Delhi to Kanpur was uneventful. A little after leaving Kanpur, we hit a pothole and the right leaf spring of our heavily laden car gave way. We somehow managed to reach Lucknow, sometime in the afternoon, and stopped at the first mechanic we found who could do the job. I told the gentleman that we had a one month old baby and wanted to reach Gorakhpur before dark. Chaitanya, our son was crying non stop, as we were having problems with his milk, water etc. and the heat, of course. The mechanic assured me that he would do his best and help us leave at the earliest. He immediately started his work and was straightening the leaf spring, when it came time for namaaz. All the neighbouring shops were promptly shut down and the people started leaving for namaaz.
A number of people, on seeing this gentleman still at work, would stop and tell him 'namaaz ka time ho gaya'. He would hear them, and still continued with his work.
Finally one gentleman stopped and said to him, 'kya paison ke liye namaaz bhi bhool gaya'.
He replied, 'yeh bhi to namaaz hi hai, inka chhota baccha roye ja raha hai aur inko Gorakhpur raat se pehle pahunchana hai'. This angered the other gentleman and he said something which upset the mechanic. He got up and left for namaaz. We were delayed for about half an hour, the time it took him to come back after namaaz. He apologised and completed the job at his earliest, to our satisfaction. On my asking him, he assured me that the car would not give me any trouble till Gorakhpur. I paid him and left after thanking him.
This illiterate mechanic had understood what most of us never seem to fathom. But look at the irony, even after having understood this final truth, he had to bow to lesser mortals for fear of being outcasted by his own friends. We finally need friends and relatives to survive in this world, unless you are willing to renounce all.
This incident has stayed with me ever since. Who was right? The mechanic who understood our predicament and who could empathise with us, and knew that Allah would also have wanted him to offer namaaz in this fashion on that day, at that time OR the other gentleman who was the custodian of everyone else's faith? God only knows!!!