It was a big day for all of us. All of us were busy preparing for it. Today our organisation was celebrating 9 successful years of helping the needy. We were very happy and had decided to organise a huge event where in we could call all the children whom we have taught up till now. All the arrangements were done. And this time I had decided to share a story of person who has managed to change my entire perception towards life. I went up on the stage and after the normal interactions I started narrating the story.
Have we ever thought of the person who does not vital body parts like hands and legs? How they live? What do they do? We always look at them with pity and sympathy. But this story of Raghu whom I met few years back changed my entire way of looking at life.
Few years back I went to Iscon Temple located on the S.G. Highway in Ahmedabad with few of my colleagues. As it was a temple, we had to remove our footwear. Here we had a system in which we give our footwear while we enter the temple. A person will be sitting in a small room there and he will provide us with a token. When we come out, we give the token to him and he gives us our footwear back. This was a common practice in most of the Indian Temples. When I went to give my footwear I saw a 17 year old kid with dark complexion who was doing this work. He was smiling and doing his work with zeal. I was surprised that how can somebody work so happily in such heat and uncomfortable working condition. I went up to him and asked “Kembhai? Kem hasi rahya Cho?” (Why are you smiling brother?) to which he said “hasujne Hu! Kem na hasu?” (I will smile! Why wouldn’t I smile?) I asked him” Salary bau sari male che ke su?”(You are getting good salary or what?)
His reply surprised me. He said “bhagwan na kaam ma kya salary…aa badhu toh hu social service mate karu chu…maa keh che jo hu saru kaam karis toh mane sari naukri malse. Biju koi mane tension nathi maa gamde rahe che and khava pivanu maru aa loko joi le che. (There is no such thing as salary in God’s work. I do all this for social work. My mom says if I do good social work, God will give me good Job. I don’t have any other tension. My mother lives in a nearby village and all my food is taken care of by the temple workers)
I asked him don’t your legs pain my sitting in crouching position for 10 hours every day. He asked me to see carefully. I asked him what he means by seeing carefully! He then asked me to come near his room’s door. What I saw there shook me.
The person who was smiling and working had no legs. He was handicap since birth. He explained me that he was best suited for the job because if somebody else was working there, he would face many difficulties fitting in that small place. He happily quoted “Bhagwan eh mane tailor-made banayo che aa kaam mate (God has made me especially for this job only) I was so astonished to meet this person I joyfully asked him his name and autograph! His name was Raghu. After this small conversation I left, but in the back of the mind I have decided to do something for this noble soul. I could not sleep for 2 days as thoughts of Raghu kept on pouring in my mind. I have decided to help this guy anyhow.
At that time Anandi Patel’s was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. The group of trustee’s there were our very good friend and she was amongst them. So I asked Anar Patel, daughter of Anandi Patel to help me out. She runs an NGO named Gramshree which is engaged in empowering women by making them self-reliant. They were making home-made products like wheat breads, pickles, woollens, blankets, wedding dresses etc. She agreed to call him for the interview.
Raghu went for the interview. I was sure that he will easily crack it as he spoke wittily and his biggest strength was his thoughts and speech. He got selected for the post of supervisor with a salary of 3000 per month. In the meantime, I went to Yale’s University for my further studies.
When I came back I met Raghu and asked him “Su bhai! kem cho? (Hello brother! How are you?)His answer again surprised me!
He said,” Bhaiya! Mari toh 16 maa che! (Brother, I have 16 mothers)
I asked him with curiosity how any person can have 16 mothers!
He said that after I employed him, he was promoted as a senior supervisor with a salary of 7000 per month. He said he still used to go to Iscon Temple and 6 months back he once encountered an old lady, around 80 years of age who had nobody around her. She lived in the slums called Ramapir ka tekra near Gandhi Ashram and filled her stomach by begging for which she had to travel by bus. Raghu was a very compassionate person so he asked that lady to stay at home and he will supply all the food and medicines of her house. When he went there he realized that she was not the only one there were 14 more mothers who stayed alone and had nobody around them. So from that day he spent 4000 Rs of his salary on bringing food for them. This was not it! He used to take 2 hour lunch break and took food on his scooty and fed them with his hands. All the ladies also considered Raghu as his own son. So Raghu concluded that 15 ladies and 1 his own mother summed to 16 mothers which he proudly possessed.
I further asked him, “don’t you get jealous when you see guys going with their girlfriends, luxurious cars etc.?
His answer changed my entire viewpoint about life.
He said,” If I get jealous of a bike today, I will get jealous of car tomorrow and some other thing the day after. I don’t want to spend my entire life getting jealous about things. I am a happy man. I give chocolates if it’s someone’s birthday, make and gift cards to people, I serve people and I have my inspirational thoughts with me. That is the reason why I have so many friends. I’m contented.
I was so much inspired by his thoughts and way of looking at life I took him to YPO WPO, world’s largest business forum for young presidents. I took him there and also shared his story.
One year passed…It was Friday; Raghu called and said he wanted to come to my place to share some good news. His voice was full of excitement. I asked him to come on Saturday only but he said he will come on Sunday only.
On Saturday afternoon I got a call saying a road accident occurred outside Ahmedabad and Raghu died on the spot. A truck had hit Raghu’s scooty. I was shocked. How does this happen? I was deeply grieved by this.
Later I came to know that Raghu had fallen in love. Both their families have approved them. The accident happened when he was coming back from his mother’s village. He had gon to show the girl to his mother. The girl was seriously injured and Raghu died on the spot. It was heart trembling incident. I will never ever forget what he taught me in his life. His life was short but proved to be inspirational for millions of people including me.
Raghu in his short life changed the way we look at life. He taught us that life is not running in the hustle and bustle of life but enjoying it. Being content with whatever we have. Being happy with whatever work we do. Finding happiness in giving because we are all here for a cause and together we can make a difference. Showing compassion towards all living beings.
Raghu’s story does not end here…it starts from here…inspiring millions of people around the globe. As I ended there was a huge roar of applause from the audience and a big smile on my face as children were able to understand. For me this event was a great hit. I ended it by thanking God and every single person who has helped us make our dream successful.