By Biraj Dixit ;
....The pilgrim raised his old gray head,
“My friend, in the path I’ve come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today
A fair haired youth, who must pass this way.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
My friend, I am building this bridge for him!”
Just like that
Oh, what an excellent, heart-warming thought! If the one real power upon which all human boasting and arrogance rests, it is this capability of humans to be able to think, to generate thoughts and to be known as thinking animal. But what glory can this thinking man achieve if ‘thoughtfulness’ is not his attribute! The above lines from an old poem by an anonymous muser, found perhaps in all school books for good reasons, is all about this little withering quality of mankind - thoughtfulness. To understand simply the essence of building bridges even when one is never to pass that way again, can take humans miles and miles of path of true humanity. The thoughtfulness of the wise pilgrim is what the world needs most if it is ever to find its way to reach the highest levels of human excellence. But path is the one thing that one does not find these days, thanks to the thoughtlessness around.
One always has a fair idea that the road ahead is going to be tough, full of obstacles, of not-so-heartening encounters, but how can one go if there is no road left? Alas! there seems not many left as one travels these days. Fluid roads, beaming with light and life are so full these days that one is left constantly looking for the ‘one less travelled’. But the deluge of vehicles spares no road. It is really beyond one’s understanding that while roads are forever expanding in this ‘on path of prosperity’ nation, the deluge on the roads never seems to recede! I know, some problems are peculiar to this country. The last time someone said India is a nation of cosmic chaos, the entire cosmos had taken strongest objection to it. “Oh! for God’s sake, we have order. Most of us have our own gravity and we do not simply gravitate to any place that offers remote likeness to being empty. We have our own speed of light and never march with what you call ‘lightning speed’. The biggest of the bangs in our world does not make as much noise as vehicles do. One good look at your broad daylight mayhems and one feels like sinking in one’s black holes never to come out. Cosmic chaos, you say, how dare you!” The second most populous country in the world, we are only 1.39 billion in all, of which most either desire to have or actually have a car. In many other countries, their wise population has taken different measures like going around in bicycles which, incidentally, takes much less room, but not ours. We never mix business with pleasure.
So, it is business as usual. Long queues of long cars on not-wide-enough roads! Business as usual. But as destiny would have it, one is required regularly to barge into chaos and become part of it ... adding to it, one must confess. Forget the old wisdom of building bridges for those coming from behind, one may consider oneself incrementally lucky if one does not meet a mountain of ‘suddenly stopped’ vehicles. For, running into trouble is one thing but ramming into it is something quite different! One may toughen one’s sensibilities and drag oneself (with one’s vehicle) into the never-ending lag of traffic leaving one’s destiny and destination at God’s mercy. But being merciful is not a quality one can nurture in a traffic jam. And while one is fretting, cursing and hurling abuses, one can hardly expect to earn God’s mercy. So, one proceeds with absolutely no mercy from any quarters. And there, finally, after one has cursed each and everything, after one has long reached the position of being at wit’s end and all one has is the hope of finding that very elusive less-travelled lane, the lane finds one.
Taking a deep breath of eternal gratitude, one embarks upon what may be philosophically be called a drive, one encounters the inevitable. One finds the crevice upon which no wise man is building a bridge. Rather, a saintly man, a recluse of sort in the world of vehicular traffic, is calmly walking up his car into a not-so-sure parking lot. That maneuvering has taken the last shred of life out of one’s body. One fears death might meet one before the saintly fellow’s car meets its parking. But life, like the traffic jam, cannot end so easily. As life and hope take the journey forward and blood returns to one’s veins, one encounters the inevitable. The road less travelled narrows into no road and all the place in the vast expanse of earth seems taken. The regular ones, the irregular ones, the unbelievable ones and the ‘what-on-earth’ ones - All taken. As one goes past one destination hunting for one little place on earth screaming for destiny’s intervention, a dim light of hope flickers. Big wheels of a little car announce their intention to become the light of God. They move, hope enlivens. Alas! before one can blink, another vehicle stakes its claim on the place. And all one is left with is the deep prick in the heart of enormous loss. It’s heart-breaking. Its numbing. Its destiny. All a traveler is left with is the hope that some pilgrim might look back and say, “I may not make a bridge for you, but I’ll make way. I’ll make way.”