Maya

I am fully aware that India is a land of contrasts, nonetheless I am amazed every time I encounter a different shade. And the shades that I am talking of are not of landscapes, clothes, cuisines, religions or festivals. I am talking of the shades of the human soul!
             It’s a country where you would find people dissatisfied with whatever they have – no matter how much – like probably anywhere else in the world, you would also find people who are so content with their lives that it can make you question the race that you are running!
             Today afternoon, while talking with my mother, I got to know of one such soul. There’s an old woman who sells vegetables at the local market in my home town. I have seen her selling vegetables at the same spot since almost 15 years. And for those who haven’t seen vegetable vendors in an Indian “sabzi mandi”, they wouldn’t know how is the setup. The big vendors would put out a big spread and then have to close their bamboo “shop” when leaving for the day. The small ones would just spread out a gunny bag in the market, put the little stuff they have on it and take back the remaining vegetables with them at night. Most of them are farmers who grow their own vegetables and sell themselves but some of them buy it from big “sabzi mandis” and sell it at the small local ones.
                Now this old one is a small vendor. She was closing her “shop” when my mother reached her. Since there was still some stuff on the gunny sack, my mother asked why was she leaving without finishing her stock – it wasn’t dark yet, so what was the hurry. And her reply made my mother overwhelmed, as it made me today on hearing the incident. She replied, “I have earned as much as I need for today’s meal. I was thinking of giving off the remaining to someone or make something out of it. So closing for the day. I don’t need any more money.”
             Ancient Indian philosophy talks about “maya” – everything in this world is an illusion so one should not run after material things but instead, enrich the soul. This woman is an embodiment of the philosophy without even knowing it. That kind of contentment doesn’t come to those who have everything – food to eat, a bed to sleep in, clothes to wear, money to spend, luxuries to indulge in; they would still be running after something more. There are souls who are ascetics, wandering this world in different forms – and one is in the form of this old woman. I know the futility of everything – yet, I cannot become like her. But may be one day, I will find some contentment in my life too. Until then, logging this story so that one day when I am too agitated over something worthless, I can look back at this and come back to my senses.

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