In Search of Freedom


It was twilight. The birds were rushing to return to their nests before night fall. Monkeys on the other hand had no such anxiety and continued to play on the trees. The deer just stood quietly and looked on. In between the trees one could see a small hamlet. Outside the hamlet sat a hermit. Dark matted hair covered his head and serene face while a simple ochre robe covered the rest of his body. Opening his eyes from his meditation, he saw a distant figure approaching him. From the gait, he could make out it was a young man.

Swami, I have heard you’re a powerful sage and can grant any wish. I have come seeking your blessings

He was a boy in his late teens. From his clothes, one could tell he was not too well off. Seeing the sage’s smiling face, he carried on.

Oh great sage, I am a humble boy who serves tea at a little shop outside an IT company. My master makes me work from dawn to dusk serving tea, collecting empty cups and cleaning tables. I do not want to be bound to the tea shop all my life. Please make me free like those software engineers who come to have tea. They seem so jolly and carefree sitting in the tea shop chatting with each other over a tea and a smoke. Please make me one of them.

Thathasthu”, said the sage.

The flowers were in full bloom. There was greenery everywhere. A gentle breeze was blowing. The sage looked on calmly as the young man walked up to him again. He was dressed in a T-shirt and jeans and one could see stubs of a two day beard on his face.

Maharaj, I make a mistake in my wish. Can I please have my wish changed?

The sage nodded gently. The boy feeling encouraged continued.

A software engineer is nothing but a galley slave slogging day and night. My eyes have gone red looking at the computer screen fourteen hours a day. A tea and a cigarette with my colleagues twice a day is all the respite I get. On the other hand I see the project manager hardly has any work to do. He is just sitting on his ass and reading mail and talking on the phone all the time. I think that is what I want to do. Please make me a project manager.

Thathasthu”, said the sage.

The sun was blazingly mercilessly. The forest had turned brown. One could hear the rustle of dried leaves whenever the wind blew. The sage’s meditation was disturbed by the sound of footsteps. Before he opened his eyes he knew who it was. Hardly anyone else ever visited him. He was looking a bit older, clean shaven and dressed in a formal shirt and trousers.

Baba Ji, I have had a terrible time as a project manager. The project manager has absolutely no freedom, no power. I am everyone’s favorite whipping boy. I am at the mercy of everyone – the clients, the company’s senior management and even the boys who report to me! If one of the software engineers does not turn up one day, my blood pressure shoots up. I dread at the very thought of receiving a new call on my cell phone or an e-mail fearing what new client escalation it might be. I think it is the proprietors and chairmen who hold the true reins of power and are really free. Please make me the proprietor of a company.

Thathasthu”, said the sage.

Monsoon had set in. The rains lashed furiously. Puddles of water could be seen everywhere. Not a living creature was in sight. They all seemed to have beaten the retreat. The hermit also was not seen on the porch. He had also taken shelter inside the hamlet. A purring sound could be heard as a car made its way towards the hamlet braving the heavy rains.

Master, I have realized that business men are but pawns in the overall game. It is the politicians who really control the pieces. With one change in policy, they can turn business upside down. For every license, every land purchase we have to be at their door. I am tired of playing to their tunes. I now want to hold the fiddle. Please make me a politician.

Thathasthu”, said the sage.

The entire hamlet was covered by mist. One could hardly see anything. Nor hear anything. A cold, calm silence reigned. Out of the mist emerged a man dressed in Khadi dress and a white cap.

Holy one, I have come to realize that politicians are but slaves of public opinion. We need to always take care to keep the man on the street in good humor. Of course we accomplish our will through devious means but I am sick of all this behind the stage game. Whereas we are constrained by public will, film stars are the ones who really rule the public’s heart. I want to be the master of public’s hearts. Make me a film star.

Thathasthu”, said the sage.

The birds were singing again and the monkeys frolicking happily. The sun smiled gently on the jungle and the wind was a soothing breeze. The rabbits played gleefully around the hamlet. As consistent as the seasons was the visitor to the hamlet. Back again.

Oh, merciful saint, I can’t even walk freely on the street these days. I have to masquerade around in disguise always surrounded by security personal. I am a hero only on the screen. However there too I have no free will. Every little move is choreographed by the director. And even my money is not my own. When the mafia don gives me a call, I have to give him whatever he asks to escape his wrath. The mafia don is the one who literally holds the gun in real life. Please make me a mafia don.

Thathasthu”, said the sage.

Dark clouds loomed over the sky. The whole forest looked on in anticipation for the first drops of rain to bring relief from scorching summer heat. The sage also had got used to his regular visitor and was kind of anticipating him. Neither the forest nor the sage was disappointed for there he was along with the first drops of rain.

Oh true seer of truth, I have experienced living hell the past few days. Every moment I fear for my life. I have become a nervous wreck. I can’t trust anyone. If I weaken a moment, I fear the fellow next to me will kill me. I can’t live like this anymore. I have come to realize that I had utmost freedom in my life as a tea boy. I did not have to work for 14-15 hours a day. I was not living under constant pressure. I did not have to go and curry favors with anyone. I did not have to bother about the opinion of every Tom, Dick and Harry. I did not get threatening calls from anyone and most of all I never had to fear for my life. Please make me a tea boy again. That is my true destiny and that is where I shall find true freedom.

Thathasthu”, said the sage.

The rains had been light that year. The entire forest seemed full of life. A peacock had come on to the hamlet courtyard and was spreading its plumes and dancing. Two squirrels chased each other up a tree. The sage sat on the porch deep in meditation. No one came to disturb him. He continued his meditation peacefully.

Related Post: Fool 

56 comments:

  1. Nice. It put a smile on my face. Is Thathasthu an original creation, or does it have some associated meaning? I almost thought it was a portmanteau...That has...thou? You?

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  2. LOL!! this one got me smiling...ironical though it may be, that one must find freedom within himself...aspiration to become someone else would just make m=him more and more of a captive day by day..

    good one! :)

    you can read my entry for BAT-23 by clicking the link below--
    FREE

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  3. sorry about that...somehow my comment appeared multiple times in your section---so had to delete all but one (in order to stop looking like a fool...though im not too sure if i succeeded..sigh!)

    anyways,
    cheers! :D

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  4. An ancient story re-told with such a relevance that it brought a broad smile to me! I am happy that at last the sage is free to meditate without disturbance :-)

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  5. “Thathasthu”, I am smiling TF. Good luck for Blog-a-Ton. Free... are we?

    Someone is Special

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  6. Oh boy..the number of times the boy kept coming back, I thought the sage himself would approach a bigger sage and ask to be transformed into a layman :P

    All the best for the contest.

    Here's my entry
    Them Slaves

    Cheers
    CRD

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  7. Thanks, Animesh.

    Thanks, Stan. Thathsu is a sanskrit word which means "So be it" Sages usually say it when granting wishes.

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  8. Thanks, Pri. Don't worry about posting about more comments. As far as comments go, more the merrier. Anyways I have deleted the duplicated.

    @aativas - Thanks. So you recognized that old story! You are right. It is based on a fable I had heard years back.

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  9. Thanks, SIS. I am so glad I have at last managed to write something that brings smiles to so many people.

    @CRD - Lol. Good idea. All the best to you. Will check out your entry soon. I am one of those who usally reads all the Blog-a-ton entries. Unfortunately I have not been able to do that for other prompts I participate in.

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  10. A nice relevant story...suggests that you are in IT?
    Everyone can identify with this :)

    Kunal

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  11. d number of stories dat get written abt engineerin guys in genrl n IT ones in particular.
    mks me jealous. :o

    yes d story- end was predicatbl bt d journey id rate as wayy wayyy more dan pleasant. n wat i really appreciated was d background detailin n d lapse of tym thru changing seasons.

    superb! :)

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  12. verry nice and practical of our times...
    cigarette smoking is injurious to health ..yet people r ADDICTED..(though i dont smoke :))

    similarly we r addicted to ACHIEVE/GET what others have..!!

    lest we may seem like a loser/failure....

    but ultimately sucess is happiness .. at least for me..if u r not happy..u r not successful..!!
    its a story of EVERY 1 in this MAD world..!!

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  13. Thanks Kunal. I used to be in IT a few years back. Now I am out of the matrix.

    Thanks Sadiya. It is now always possible to have a twist at the end of every tale I guess. By the way, I was waiting for your comments. I was tempted to moralize at the end about how one should find freedom within his own mind yada yada and all that. But I remembered your comment on my two earlier stories and restrained myself leaving the reader to draw his or her own lessons or not if he or she is disinclined. So I was wondering what you would say this time.

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  14. Absolutely brilliant !!! The story as well as the style of writing was flawless. Reminded me of the old panchatantra story of the rat.

    But one thing about the statement "A software engineer is nothing but a galley slave slogging day and night". Come on, its not so bad :)

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  15. Thanks a lot, Vikram. I was inspired by the very same Panchatantra story.

    Well, I was just exaggerating for story sake. I actually enjoyed my years as a software engineer and at times when I look back and reflect on the fun times, I wish I had remained in the software industry. But then I have had friends who have had to work 14 by 7 for 3 months at a stretch and suffered a nervous break down.

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  16. Thanks a lot for your comment, whoever you are, Mr.anonymous if you happen to look back here. I fully agree with you.

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  17. This should be printed in a moral science book!! :)

    All the best!

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  18. The characters were put perfectly and well written
    not that good, nor that bad... but well written
    all the best....!

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  19. really nice article..i was chuckling...its true that we find that other people live a better life and when we come into their shoes, v realize the rest..really good one :)

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  20. Thanks, Enchanta. Hope moral science was one of your favorite classes in school. Many people find moral science classes boring. If you are one of those, then probably this was not a compliment.

    Thanks Sulaiman.

    Thanks Nidhi. I am glad you liked it.

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  21. wow !!
    the story changes according to the change in generation :)
    very nice expression...
    exhilarating post beautiful :)
    i enjoyed it

    keep smiling always :)

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  22. That sage had a lot of patience. If I was in the sage's place, I would have put a curse on the tea boy turned engineer turned businessman turned politician somewhere in the middle of the story and be done with it. :)

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  23. Thanks, Sowmya. Glad you enjoyed my post.

    @Sunjoo - That is why he is a sage. He does not loose patience.

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  24. Brilliant. I'm sure I've read something like this in an Aesop's fable or elsewhere when I was small. But a story like this, and the way you've written it, never fails to amuse or teach.
    Excellent stuff.
    All the best for BAT.

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  25. A nice story.
    All the best for BAT.

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  26. Nice one! Reminds me of stories we used to be told as kids...with great morals and lessons. Good luck with BAT!

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  27. Great Morals, really! I felt Happy after reading your post and i loved the title :)

    Best of luck @ BAT

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  28. Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! Simply love your style of writing! Good work :)

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  29. Thanks a lot, D2, Shona, Psyschbabbler, Hema, Shalmalee and Swati. I am glad you liked my post.

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  30. A really amusing story, has taken me back to ancient folklore..stories of sages and animals in forest, etc. A nice story to relate to my child as well. Wonderful style of writing.

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  31. Childhood story with a moral.. Really loved it.. good luck buddy

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  32. Thanks Cherry Blosson. Hope your child liked the story as well.

    Thanks Srikanth.

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  33. wonderful story...it is like those little stories we read as kid....the one that teaches moral...maybe all of us need that too right now......enjoyed it could connect to it....

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  34. very nice.. i liked the way you have narrated each role from software engineer to tea boy again.. but one thing.. how come the boy didn't irritate the saint ?? he kept on disturbing him from his meditation.. hehe.. all the best for BAT

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  35. Thanks, Critic. We still do need such stories. But some of us feel too grown up and turn our noses at such things.

    Thanks RaNiiiii. After all he is a sage. So expected to have much more patience than the normal man, no? And then it is easier to say Thathsu and get rid of him than scold him.

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  36. AMAZING !
    That is the most simple yet compelling definition of freedom that i have ever come across.
    Subtle,simple and absolutely spell-binding !
    A masterpiece !

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  37. hehe...good one...i liked the software engineer wala the most ;)

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  38. Thanks, Brijender and Megha.

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  39. Awesome post!!

    Noone is free. Everyone thinks that the other person is more happy. Nicely said.

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  40. A different and nice way of portraying the story! interesting!

    and thanks for reading my post: Free-Rights-Restrictions

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  41. Thanks a lot, Prashant and kushalashok.

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  42. good one:) I think there was a malayalam story that went this way, my mother used to tell it to me..well written though..good

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  43. The one thing that I enjoyed about reading this post was the reference to nature. Being a nature person I really connected with it.

    I feel the idea won hearts via the simplicity.

    Also I think you've probably covered some of the most lucrative professions of today's time. Indeed its true, freedom is truly being able to do what one wills without reason or compulsion.

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  44. Thanks,Sharika. Might have been. I had read a story long back about a rat wanting to be a cat and then a dog and then a monkey and so on. I just re told the story in current context.

    Thanks, Richi. Simple does work.

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  45. Wow...this is absolutely wonderful. Yes, we always feel that the grass is greener at the other side, but then it's human nature to be dissatisfied with what we already have, isn't it?

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  46. It's beautiful!! I love the weave and flow of context. Your piece is actually very lyrical... Keep up the good work :)

    Warmest,
    j

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  47. It was not heard to guess where it waa headed but the lyrical narration and imageries kept me glued till the end. What should I say? You have covered the whole gamut with a panache.

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  48. Very nice read... bookmarked.

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