Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Ramanujan stood on the terrace of his house observing the gully cricket played out by the small kids in the neighbourhood. He was fascinated by the amount of satisfaction the game generated to the young boys in such a small area. It was hardly a place to park a car, and the kids had created a playground out of the space. The wall adjoining to the landlord's house served as the stumps, with the mark made by a red brick serving as a perfect debatable wicket. As always, the player who wielded the bat missed the ball more often than once, and was caught in a dilemma as to whether the opposition is going to appeal him out or not. He was, as usual, ready to confront an argument with the close in fielders, an argument finding all the unknown words in the local language, and irreproducible. Summer holidays was generally the busiest time for the kids, and for the mothers, an unexplainable agony. The game generally progressed from 9 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon, with about an hour for lunch. The kids assembled back at 2 to play out the rest of the day, which usually ended well into the night. In the midst of the game, there used to be several head banging arguments, which could easily bring down the neighbourhood. Just like any other neighbourhood, there were these elements, who never fancied young kids playing all day.

Ramanujan watched all this with the eye of an artist. He loved their games, their fight, their arguments, and he also appreciated at some of them for the way they played the game. His son and daughter-in-law left early in the morning for work, and he after a good breakfast got ready to watch the day's proceedings. His grandson went to school, and his parents dropped him on the way to office. He would eagerly wait for him in the evening, so that he could narrate to him about the day's events. He had been doing this for the past many years, seeing generations of kids grow up to adults. He had never been bored by the game, since there was always some difference in the fresh batch of players. After his morning walk and breafast, he would stay on till about 12 in the afternoon, grab a quick lunch, read some philosophical subjects, and get back in the evening for the game. If there was an international game, then the area would be deserted, and the lunch session would witness some pathbreaking analysis. Ramanujan had found perfect peace in the world, and so, was at peace with himself. He always felt that the time he spent with his grandson were the best moments of the day. He would tell him about all the teachers, about the homework, about his fight with the other boys, about his sports events, and about all the things that had no special significance in anybody else's life. Ramanujan would be an avid listener, adding suggestions to the conversation. His relationship with his grandson, he considered it to be invaluable. His son and daughter-in-law had given him complete freedom at home, and he was free to do what he wanted. He was never questioned about anything, and they felt it to be their duty to take advice from him. Ramanujan, on his part, never really troubled them with unnecessary criticism and sarcasm.

His morning walk to the Malleswaram Railway Station, he met many people whom he knew for many years. He would strike a conversation with them in the most friendly way, inquiring them about their day to day activities. He never got bored with the talks even though it had been that way everyday. He was treated with respect wherever he went and people appreciated his non-interfering attitude. The stationmaster in the railway station was a good friend of his and both of them would spend some time discussing about the current state of affairs in the country.


His routine fell in place to a nicety and he was happy with the way things were progressing in life. But, in life there are many a hurdles to clear and it is how one manages to steer his way through them is what really defines life. One day, on his way back from his morning walk, he saw a group of violent elements manhandle a guy. He walked away unconcerned, with a feeling of animosity and hatred towards the tough guys. He went back home with a very disturbed mind, feeling totally uneasy with himself. He was feeling guilty for having not got involved in the issue someway or the other to rescue the person who was getting thrashed. For a second, all the principles and values that he had lived for all his life seemed to be waning away. It was the moment of truth for him, as he realised that what you preach is useless unless and until practised in the same vein. It is tough to point out when a person is doing something wrong, than to go around telling people not to do wrong, when they are not doing anything. That was the situation Ramanujan faced that day. He felt that the entire system crashed on him, and he would never be able to be the same again. The least he felt that he could have done was to call the police, and walked away from the scene. He did not even do that. He sat back reclining on the chair wondering what else he could have done. He then got up, opened the door, and headed to the station. But this time, it was a different one, the police station. He went to the inspector and narrated the situation that took place sometime back. He also told him how he did not have the sense of duty to call him earlier, and that he regretted for his actions. The inspector listened carefully and listed out the event in a report. He thanked him for his social concern and appreciated him for his help. Such was the nature of Ramanujan. He was an idealist, with a very socialistic approach towards life.

There were times when he would be in disagreement with his son and daughter in law over certain issues. But, the argument would always end in a positive note, with Ramanujan not hesitating to pick the positive points from the discussion. He liked to be a liberal man with a very simplistic way of living, and never cared for what others thought about him as long as he was on the right path. The border issue had taught him a lot of things in life. His good friend had purchased the adjacent plot of land and constructed a nice and sophisticated building. Everything was good with it, except that a part of the building encroached Ramanujan's area. He tried reasoning with his friend, explaining to him that he did not feel comfortable with the encroachment. His friend never saw from Ramanujan's perspective, and both the families got into a feud that threatened to wreck the peace of the environment. The families entered into a court case that meandered for more than a year, without any conclusive agreement in sight. Ramanujan saw that the court case was serving as a hindrance to everyone concerned. So, one evening, he decided to strike a conversation with his friend and reach an agreement on the issue. He went and told him that whatever may be the outcome of the case, he has no issues with his part of the building jutting into his compound, and that he has no problems with forging old ties. People and values have meant a lot to him in life and he did not want to lose them over something materialistic. Both of them spoke about their old days together. The talks gladdened their hearts and filled them with ease. The next day, his friend removed the structure that was reaching out to Ramanujan's house. The court case was withdrawn and both the families are enjoying the best relationship since then.

Ramanujan's attitude towards life focussed more on people's lives and their well beings. Materialism and wealth creation are just a part of the package towards a good lifestyle. They are not the be all and end all of life and can never be so. People like Ramanujan who have understood this basic fact of life are always bound to do well and suceed in life.

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