Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Touching Image of a Small Boy

 children shoes captured during refugees crisis.  Budapest, Hungary, Central Europe,  2015.

Please scroll to end of not for  new Xmas song being sung by some this Christmas season

I saw an image that has touched me deeply on TV. It was a small boy. It was a fleeting image that has appeared more than once on BBC World service in a collage of images that are used as signatures before and after programs and many thoughts have  gone through my mind as I have tried to imagine what the full story of this sweet little boy of four or five might be, not very different from my own grandson at that age. Little children everywhere are so much alike especially when they are less than five. The image touched me even more than that of Aylan Kurdi of about the same age lying face down in the sand on a Turkish beach, because this boy had not yet left for heaven.
"Baba, lat yubki, aehna maak." ( Papa, please don't cry, I am with you)

The images above are not from BBC. In the BBC image the little boy was standing all alone, very still, a little removed from others in a crowd of refugees, a small lean boy standing erect, serious and forlorn, perhaps very tired from miles and miles of walking, as refugees from Syria have been doing before they find a roof to lie down under, tired but not sitting down because others are standing too, perhaps waiting to be allowed to pass through another check point, there have been so many in this journey of thousands of miles, alone because possibly his only guardian, a father has gone away for an errand and his mother and sisters were ripped apart by barrel bombs and he saw their pieces fly out the door before they left, that was before he and his father decided to run away from fear of another attack, leaving behind their car and all they possessed, they must take to open country and stay away from the roads where men armed with guns roam.  His father locked the home in case they come back one day, but the wall at the back has been blown away by an earlier bomb and locking is all but symbolic, they may never return, they must carry with them as little as possible, Johnny wanted to bring along the blocks his mama had  gifted on his fourth birthday but Papa says they must travel light, that he shall get him a new set just as soon as they reach Germany, he has hidden the little family gold on his body and they shall not pass through Slovakia, from where his cousin has messaged him, the guards  strip them, search, and take all the gold and money away before throwing them in prison, even children.

The boy continues to stand forlorn, now in a distant land, the TV shot suddenly shows a hand being extended towards him with a glass of water. The boy spots it and grabs it quickly, swiftly with both his small tender hands in gratefulness, in much the same gesture as a child would grab a much awaited Christmas or Birthday gift from a loving parent, as if he has been thirsty for a very long time, the image fades from the screen and another one replaces it.

From a sad child to Paris

PS: There are millions of other like Johnny of this note fleeing violence in Syria. Is it very difficult, for the world to help? It certainly is not. All the leading countries have to do is come together, US; UK; France, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran, create and announce a transitional International government independent of the Syrian factions, ask all to surrender their weapons for peace and those who do not, make them do so. More on that here
A different eye may see this not as a heart breaking image of a dead child but of a proud symbol of western civilization, with a flag of France fluttering proudly in its midst on the beach, proud of their values yet unable to protect the sweet children of our world, even aiding the offending parties at times

  Listen hear ye, angels scream
A new child dead today
from Libya to Sudan
from Sudan to Yemen
From Yemen to Gaza
Gaza to Baghdad
Baghdad to Kabul
loud is the scream
horror and sorrow
A new child dead today
What a shame, if these are the values the best of humans on the planet have become proud of, could an apocalypse be far away. What use are any other values, howsoever grand if the world permits/aids torture instead of taking care of the sweetest, most innocent, most loving and vulnerable of humans amongst them - infant children?

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

The saintly do not accumulate

While most humans focus on earning and accumulating wealth in their journey through life or at least try very hard to do so, there are a few amongst them that do not make this a prime focus of their life. It is not that they do not like or value wealth but they are either distracted with other things that life has to offer or consider other pursuits far more important. Saintly persons are some from amongst these latter. People like Gandhi when they became saints gave away everything they owned. The word saintly is not used here in any religious sense but in the sense of persons bearing a consciousness close to the divine or universal consciousness.

The saintly lot of humans do not worry so much about accumulating wealth because somehow deep within them is the unshakable belief that the Lord or Universe would take care of their genuine needs as and when they arise and that accumulating much wealth in a life time is really not worth it except for its temporary use, that one life is just one lap of the journey in a vehicle called the human body and that they would have to change vehicles some time soon. They would not be allowed to carry anything material to the next vehicle that shall be assigned after death of the present one.

Amongst the saintly are not just poor persons and hermits in the Himalayas but also ordinary folks in all walks of life, even royalty, and such personages as Queen Victoria or Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth amongst some. These royal personages maintained utter simplicity in their personal leanings while maintaining all the jewels and frills as required for the mission the Lord had assigned to them in life. An illustration of this simplicity is that Queen Victoria found greatest happiness for a few months every year in a cottage near Balmoral castle in the highlands and not in the huge places she occupied at other times to perform her duty. Her closest of friends were not from royalty but those from amongst poor gypsies are a servant from a poor village in India. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on the other hand is quite happy to eat a TV dinner in a plastic tray rather than in fine dining rooms and even when entertaining in silver prefers to choose a simple menu of rice pilaf , finely chopped mixed salad suitable for rice, and lentils as she did recently on visit by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Buckingham Place rather than all manners of delicacies and dainty meats her kitchen can turn out just with a wave of her gloved hand. Saintly souls recognize each other, in high office or on the street,  and recognizing him as such Her Majesty the Queen realized that he would be far happier with this simple menu rather than an elaborate one. Moreover it was also a gesture of motherly affection knowing how much Modi ji cares for motherly love. The choice of a silver gray dress she wore however also expressed concern at the challenges India faces and he would have to deal with. In contrast the stark gray at the Chinese visit may have expressed sorrow. From ancients times Royalty both Western and Indian have expressed more through symbolism of their dress, jewels and expression than words. Perhaps the most famous expression of Her Majesty was when she first met PM Margaret Thatcher, an expression that seemed to say, “What a squeaky little Prime Minister."  LOL! Hope her Majesty who does love a laugh at times, shall pardon the humor : - )

A Himalayan Hermit that this author greatly admires is Baba Hairakhan of Nainital District who possessed nothing more than the single garment he wore all through his life when wearing something, but when he chose a lovely but remote location in Nainital district of Himalayas for establishing himself, others arrived from four corners of the globe to bring labor and money to build rooms for all to stay in a Monastery that is bigger than most any castle or palace on earth. Government ministers arrived and built a beautiful road cutting through mountains to reach his ashram so that disciples could take modern transportation and not have to walk to it. Thus the saintly have existed amongst the crowd of humanity from the beginning, each at his mission to bring light to the world and solace to distressed humanity running hither and thither in false pursuits and pride, each on a Lord's mission in his or her own way to each the Lord has provided as and when their needs demanded it as appropriate for their missions from the simple hut of saint Kabir, to a tree for shade for Buddha, caves for some and palaces for others, for such saints must cover the spectrum of activities necessary to maintain the world.

Perhaps the point may become clearer from a short story:

John and Harry were friends and the most charming and handsomest of all young men who lived in their poor village that was below the emerald castle of the king on the hill  One day guards arrived from the palace and said the old King had invited them to live with him in the palace for a year and since he has no sons of his own, they would have all the comforts and rights that Royal princes for a year, that they may not take anything with them on this visit nor bring anything back when the visit ends.

Both John and Harry were delighted and jumped into the carriages that had come to take them. At the guard room of the Castle, the guards asked them to strip to the buff since the king had desired they bring nothing with them. However after some streaking about in the buff in distress to the amusement of the guards, they found royal garments to put on.

Both John and Harry spent the following months in great joy and comfort. John loved to tend in the gardens and was fascinated by the garment section where he saw how workers extracted silk from cocoons of the forest and turned it into fine royal garments. In fact he became so good at it that he turned out a couple of garments all by himself that the King was delighted with. Harry on the other hand was wiser and spent a lot of time building a collection of expensive jewels. He knew how important wealth is and how useful it would be later when he is in need.

When the year came to an end, they were led back to the guard room and asked to strip again and put on their original clothes. The King had desired that they take nothing back. Even the jewels Harry had collected were taken away even though he begged to be allowed to keep some.

John returned to the village and began a business of weaving silk garments from the skill he had learned at the Palace and earned enough to give some food to Harry too from time to time who was very hard up. However, some months later the royal army arrived at the gate of John’s hut. They carried with them royal garments and a crown and said the old King is now abdicating from old age and had chosen John to be the new King. He had asked them both to the palace for a year just to observe and choose the one most worthy for this honor. 

While John lived happily ever after in private moments he did not give up his simplicity of living and his friendship with Harry who later managed to steal a few jewels from the King from time to time until his old age so that even though he did not become king he lived right royal. When the time came for both to leave this world the angels from heaven arrived to strip both of all the garments and everything they had. They lead Harry to horrid hot lodgings in the other world and John to another lovelier Palace, even as they remarked,

“Naked you came into the world and naked you shall return”.