Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Give us this day our daily bread.....

'Baba(father), the sugar is almost over and the rice....will probably last for another two days. Even the pulses are getting over. We have to visit the grocery man soon.' There was genuine concern in her voice as she narrated her woes to her father.
'I know beta (affectionate term for sibling) but what to do, my salary is not due for another six days. We have to survive somehow, maybe skip a few meals in the process. I leave that to you.' Vishnu sounded helpless.

He knew that his job as an assistant construction manager would fetch him this much and no more. After the routine cuts involving Government funds and taxes the take home salary that he received was hardly enough to last him and his family twenty days. After that they were on God's mercy.

Vishnu's family was not large, his daughter Megha and her younger brother Ramesh who was also a young student in the 10th standard. Megha had just taken admission in college for her under graduate course in science. Since the education was more or less subsidized it gave him hope that his children would be able to complete their education peacefully. Yet Vishnu knew he was not able to meet any of their extra-curricular demands like an outing, new clothes, an occasional dinner outing and various other small things associated with teenagers. He felt guilty. He knew that try as he might he couldn't live up to the monetary expectations of his two children. He had also to pay for the numerous school bills associated with his children's higher education.


Things were difficult since the time his wife Bela had passed away in an accident three years back. She was trying to cross the road when a speeding car had knocked her down. She went into a coma and never recovered thereafter. Her death was confirmed of brain hemorrhage a few days later. The whole family was left in a state of shock as the children were young and this was the time they needed their mother the most.
Yet life had to move on, and Vishnu somehow managed to draw his family out of their gloom and despondency. He inculcated in them the spirit of survival and told them that life wasn't always rosy. Worse could have happened but maybe God wanted it this way. Both Megha and Ramesh understood and had taken to their studies in a big way to underscore their loss.
Their patience and hard work paid off and both of them topped in their respective classes. Vishnu was overjoyed and with the help of a Government sponsored loan meant for girls seeking higher education he got his daughter Megha admitted in a science course of her choice.
Ramesh wanted to do commerce and would be eligible for admission in the commerce section of his school in the 11th grade, in the coming next semester.
He was broken out of his reverie by the sound of sudden rain drops splattering on the window pane of their their two roomed set.
'Baba, it's raining' said Megha. She was always fascinated by the sound of water, was a confirmed water baby and the raindrops brought forth the excitement in her. She was visibly happy and clapped her hands in joy.
Vishnu was overwhelmed seeing his daughter light up so. He felt happy in their little bouts of happiness and watched her from a distance. He was seized with pangs of happiness and guilt both at the same time. Happiness because it was nice to see his daughter happy and guilt because he couldn't give her anything beyond this.

Vishnu resolved that he would borrow some funds from just about anywhere and at least buy his children some new clothes. He himself didn't need anything but his growing children should have some new clothes. He knew the world was flooded with so many gadgets, computers, phones but they couldn't afford anything for the time being.
The next day was school and college as usual for the children. As they made their way out to their respective destinations Vishnu saw them go with a wistful look in his eyes. He was determined today he would take a loan from somewhere and get his children their basic amenities. His mind was flooded with these thoughts as he saw the two children make their way out of their two roomed house meant for the economically weaker section.
Why does God differentiate so much between it's own children, he wondered. Some were born in a richly family and changed new attires every single day, and some were born in such poor families that they struggled to barely cover themselves. Vishnu's mind was in a quandary as he pondered over these shortcomings and problems facing him.

He slowly became ready and after reciting his prayers in front of their small makeshift temple in a corner of the house, he was ready to leave. The temple was of course set up and decorated by his wife Bela when they had moved in to this house. Every morning without fail she used to chant her morning Aarti (religious chanting) and gave everybody the Prasad (offering made to the Gods') before each of them left for their respective work /destination.

Vishnu tried to maintain the same tradition as best as he could but there were days when he missed his deadline with God. Today he was extremely particular as he didn't want to start his day on a bad note with God. Today was the day of reckoning he felt.

After a frugal breakfast of a chapatti (meal made of wheat), left over from the dinner last night, and some jaggery, he was ready to leave for his office. He reached the office well in time to be able to meet his immediate superior as he wanted to discuss the loan approval with him. He sought an appointment with him and after having got it immediately went over to his superior's cabin and knocked,
'Come in,' sounded a familiar voice from inside.
'Good Morning Sir,' Vishnu wished his boss as he walked inside.
'Good Morning Vishnu, please come in and sit down.' his boss Mr Bhatia walked up to him and made him sit on the sofa placed in the room.
'What is it Vishnu? Is something bothering you? Tell me please?' Mr Bhatia asked in a very patient but reassuring tone.
Vishnu sat down with him and poured his heart out, everything right from the beginning.
The death of his wife, and events thereafter. How he was facing financial difficulties in meeting the day to day responsibilities of his family, the educational needs of his family, the personal hardships faced by him, the financial crunch, everything he poured out. He concluded by asking him to sanction a company loan for his children's further higher education, and help him meet their growing daily requirements.

Mr. Bhatia heard him out patiently and after he had finished relating his entire problems, he got up, went to his table and returned with a form.
'Fill up this form in your cabin and submit it to me before you leave. Consider your loan application as approved,' he told Vishnu as he handed him the form.
Vishnu was overwhelmed with joy, tears started streaming down his cheeks and he wept uncontrollably sitting in the cabin of Mr. Bhatia.
His boss too didn't stop him as he knew they were tears of joy, the outpourings of pent up emotions and the release and joy one felt at the conclusion of a successfully completed task.
'Thank you Sir, you don't know how much this means to me,' said Vishnu while he joyfully held the hands of his boss in gratitude.
'You deserve it Vishnu and mind you this is no favor. Now please fill up the form and bring it to me later.'
Vishnu again thanked Mr Bhatia and walked out of his cabin clutching the form to him as if he had achieved a major victory.
He was in the process of filling the loan form when he got a message from the reception. It said, 'Pick up the lobby extension Sir, there's a call for you?'
'For me? Who could it be?' A fear clutched his heart. After his wife's death he had become really despondent. He just hoped it wasn't any bad news from anyone in his house. He ran towards the phone kept outside in the lobby.
'Hello yes, who's that?' his voice was quivering in fear.
'Hello Baba, it's me Megha.'
'Baba, you won't believe what happened today. I got a brand new laptop in my college with my own WiFi connection'
'ISN'T THAT GREAT BABA.'  Megha was ecstatic.
'How Megha, how did this happen and where did you get the money from?' Vishnu asked her feeling just a wee bit concerned.
'Baba, don't fret, I didn't have to pay a single rupee. It was all Govt. sponsored.'
'Under a scheme launched by the Delhi Govt, I'm eligible for hand held computers or laptops for propagation of computer literacy.'
'I'm so happy Baba. I'm told Ramesh would also be getting a similar benefit of this scheme in his own school.'
Vishnu was overjoyed. God had indeed been kind to him today. Not only was his loan application approved but his children were getting free laptops from the State under a computer literacy scheme. He immediately rushed to the temple situated in a corner of the office premises, where he bowed his head in humility gratitude and total surrender. Whatever had happened was all God's will, he had wanted it that way.
HE had provided him and his family with their daily bread.......GOD IS INDEED GREAT!

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