It is my usual routine to walk two and a half kilometres to my work. I start around 9 PM, finish my dinner and slowly walk to my work spot with the occasional cool breeze as I cross the lakes makes the walk feel effortless. But this day something uncommon happened that probably changed the life of a boy, literally it changed his life.
As I walked by the lake and in the dim radiance of the street light I saw a boy standing by the lake over the protected barricade and standing close to the waters. I shouted at him, waved my hand and went closer to him. He stood petrified looking at me. I asked him to come over the barricade and the expression on his face made me realize he was about to jump into the waters.
“Very daring young man, eh? Gutsy to jump into the waters in the dark? You are lucky that I walked by. Come I’ll take you to your home”, I offered. He stood speechless feeling guilty of his act.
“No, it’s alright. No troubles to you”, he said in a feeble tone.
“I don’t trust you, young man. Come on, I’ve got all night to work. I can request my colleague to work a little longer before I take his place”, I said to him and dialed my colleague requesting him the same.
We started walking in the direction he was leading me. “Thanks”, he said with in a low voice
“No problem, you are looking like my son. How old are you? 18, probably?”, I asked him
“Yes, exactly”, he said with a bit of surprise.
“What’s lead you to this despair at such an age?”, I asked
“What has age got to do with the worries a man has?”, he replied unconvincingly
“At least you don’t have three kids and a wife to take care of working as a watchman”, I chuckled.
“So you are a watchman? I can never do such a job, isn’t it a hard job?”, he asked wondering. I was happy to see him being diverted from his distress.
“Well, everything is hard you see. I could never do what you were trying to do. My job gives me food and I earn it in a way that also makes others feel secured while at sleep. What can be more proud than being a guardian protecting people, you see it’s just the way you see it”, I said cheerfully hoping that it’ll light him up.
“I see. People like you exist in the same town as me. If only I could have thought like you, I won’t have gone this far to do what I was about to”, he said with his eyes drooping and moist.
“That’s alright. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You are alive. Now you have an amazing life to live, cheer up”, I said as we were walking slowly as I was wondering how far I have to walk back again.
“Don’t you have any worries at all?”, he asked
“I do have plenty of reasons to worry, no doubt I can list ten of them before you take the next breath”, I said smiling at him
“But you seem happy”, he said
“Yes, because I don’t worry about thinking about the reasons I have to worry about. I chose to be happy, you see it’s like a shirt you wear. You choose to wear this shirt and you can always choose to wear a smile as well”
“That’s some encouragement for me. You know what? I have no reason to feel sad, I’m just not grateful for things I have”, he said in a glum tone
“That’s all! you’ve learnt a great lesson today. Now you are going to be the happiest man you’ve ever seen in your life after this”, I said gleefully. I saw him smile for the first time. I’m happy I eventually made him smile.
“I don’t have anyone to talk to me like you do now if only anyone was there I wouldn’t have gone this far. All my family needs is money even after I die they’ll get plenty of money from the insurance and they’ll be happy with it”, he said worryingly.
“Why don’t you give others what you don’t have? In that way, you become happy because you gave something to someone that you don’t have and in return, you will get all that back multiplied”, I said
“You talk like a philosopher. What have you studied?”, he asked
“I didn’t complete my schooling. I think I’ve learnt all this from my own experience. My life also has plenty of problems financially, mentally, physically. I feel I’m not lucky to be happy with all these troubles so I give happiness to others and that keeps my problems a little further away. By the way, what’s that insurance you talked about?”, I said
“You don’t know what insurance is? If anything happens to your health, the company will pay for you but you need to pay a small amount every month for it”
“Oh, I see. I still don’t understand it but if I have insurance I don’t have to borrow money to treat my mother every month I guess”, I said.
“That’s sad. If you don’t have enough money to take care of your family and your needs, what do you do for other things like going to the cinema or buying new things?”
“We don’t do any of that. My children have seen only three movies in a cinema theatre all their lives. I can manage as an older guy but sometimes I feel sad for my children who don’t get to do things that are normal to kids like them in most places”, I said with a slight sadness.
“Now I see plenty of reasons to feel happy about my life”, he said.
We had reached his house. He offered to drop me at my workplace. On the way sitting on his bike, I was thinking about my life.
No matter what I say, it is not easy to stay up all night yet I do it with all the passion I can do my job with and it satisfies me when I go back home. No matter whatever fancy is happening in the world, it’s none of my business if I need to afford it with money because I know I can’t and only pain comes from the desire for things. I strive my life with just fulfilling my needs.No matter whatever problems life throws at me if I go to sleep and wake up the next day I wear my smile and make people happy when they see me. I used to see excitement in my dear children’s eyes when they ask for something now, I no longer see that excitement because they realize desire for people like us comes with a cost and we limit our desires to what we can afford. Deep down that does make me feel I sometimes fail as a father, no matter whatever I say.