I was at a roadside photo studio the other day waiting for my passport size photographs to be printed. What is usually a task filled with tedium turned into an interesting and scary experience as I stood there overhearing a conversation between two young boys waiting at the crossroads of life.
One of those boys was printing out my photos from a disc I had given him when his friend walked in.
After the usual male ritual of greeting with a loose hug and a back slap, the friend asked, “So, what have you decided?”
The first boy turned to insert my disc into the drive. Refusing to look at his friend, he said, “I am going ahead. I cannot spend the rest of my life working in a job like this. Mujhe amir banna hai (I want to be rich).”
“Pagal ho gaya kya? Yeh do numbri ka kam tujhe barbadi ka rasta le jayega.” Translated that reads as “Illegal work or crime will just take you on the road to self-destruction.”
The boy working at the photo studio continued to concentrate on my photos, still refusing to look up at his friend who continued talking in an earnest voice but now with a slightly frantic note creeping in. Strangely, neither of the two boys seemed much bothered that a customer was standing there, hearing every word.
The friend continued, “Dekh, paise se koi khushi nahi paata. Khushi tab milti hai jab aadmi apne aap se khush hota hai. Aur yeh sirf imandari ki kamai or izzat ki zindagi jeene se munkin hai.” (Look, nobody has ever achieved happiness through money. Happiness can only be obtained by leading an honest life filled with self-respect).
By now, I was highly impressed with one wise, young man while simultaneously being concerned for another who seemed hell-bent on choosing a wrong path.
Overcome with both sentiments, I decided to interject, telling the wise one, “Your friend is not going to listen. It shows in his body language.” I said this in Hindi.
Continuing to speak in Hindi, I turned to the troubled young man and said, “Beta*, listen to your friend. He is giving you the right advice. I know many rich people. And not one of them is happy. All they do is sit and worry about losing their money.”
The boy at the studio handed me my photographs with a wry smile. I paid him and as I left the studio repeated, “Listen to your friend.”
But even as I said it, I knew that this boy was not going to listen. He was too enamoured with the promised land of riches waiting on the other side of the door marked Temptation in life’s waiting room.
The encounter I had that day at the photo studio made me reflect. We are all asked to wait for long periods in life’s hold till we are brought to a waiting room with several doors. Or, call it being presented with a choice while waiting at the crossroads.
Do we go left? Do we go right? Or, should we keep going straight?
That’s always the million dollar question!
- While writing this post, I am wondering if I should do more in helping one youngster choose the right path. Do you think it would help if I went back to the photo studio and showed the young man and his friend stories from my series of “watching the next generation mature into people you can be proud of? See The Good Son and his Secret Trial ; Price of Admission! ; The Light of Truth and a post on a similar subject Respect!
- The entire conversation I overheard took place in Hindi. I have published the dialogue here in English for the benefit of readers who may not be familiar with the language. Where I have used phrases in Hindi to add a local flavour, I have translated the phrases as best as I can in English.
#respect #careers #life #careerchoice
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Featured Image Credit: crossroads by Carsten Tolkmit (Flickr.com CC BY-SA 2.0)
*Beta – A Hindi word meaning ‘Son’.