There are people. There are cars. There is noise. And there is heat. A typical early summer evening in the heart of Delhi. I’m seated in my car, busy flipping channels on the radio whilst simultaneously wishing the traffic subsides swiftly.
I can’t seem to keep still, so I look out of the window.
My eyes wander to the right and then to the left. I see a bunch of kids striding out to play cricket with a purpose most professionals would have a hard time matching. One of them is leading the bunch of seven, and he looks and behaves every way the boss. He’s telling them to take today’s match against the neighbouring colony seriously. We may be small, but we’re not pushovers, he says to them firmly. This is serious stuff, not just a stroll in the park, he keeps reiterating. In his eyes, there is a burning passion for victory, for success. And he’s hell bent on achieving that for himself. This resolve and dedication will take him places in life, I tell myself.
I then see a young girl engrossed in a text book sitting behind someone who appears to be her father on a rusty bicycle, not at all bothered with superficial things like traffic and the heat. I instantly smile, seeing in her, a hope for a better tomorrow, a want, a will to learn, to defeat what life has thrown at her. Not everybody has it. And those who do have a lot they can teach. She does. Inspiring, I think.
The traffic moves, and then halts again at the signal. I keep gazing out. The world has a lot to offer, only if we ever bother opening our eyes. Even if for a moment.
I now see a small temple to the left of the road after the crossing. And I see two people outside. A man who can hardly walk, he’s so weak. Wearing clothes with more holes than fabric, looking as if he had not eaten in days. But he’s there, in front of his God, in his eyes the controller of his fate, his life. Despite everything, he stands there, head bowed, hands folded, displaying unflinching hope in the one thing he believed in, faith. Lost in prayer. He’s probably been doing that every day of his life, for he hopes. And hope is all he has when there is no food on his plate, no roof over his head, no easy days to look forward to.
There are many stories we’ve heard, even been inspired by, of celebrities, sportspersons, and in some, very rare cases, of commonfolk achieving dreams despite all odds being stacked against them. But stories of people like the one outside the temple are no less inspirational. People like him are no less heroic.
For it’s not always in happy endings that victory resides. It’s in this defiance of life, in this sort of immovable hope and will that victory lies. It’s this struggle, this display of absolute courage that gives humanity, and ordinary people like me hope, and the will to carry on with a smile.
Right next to him stands an older man in a pristine white shirt and dark brown trousers, his driver having helped him out of his Bentley. This elder gentleman stands in the same posture as the man next to him. Head bowed, hands folded, deep in prayer. Probably thanking the almighty for all he has, praying that he keeps blessing him the way he has until now.
It would have made for a beautiful picture. These two men, poles apart in terms of how their lives have panned out, so different yet so similar, lost in reverence of the One. If only I had a professional camera, I sigh.
But it gets me thinking, aren’t we all the same?
Similar in foundation, different in manifestation.
All of us hope. Even when we say we have lost hope, deep down, a part of us still hopes. Some place their trust in God, their hope manifested through prayers and devotion. Some work day in, day out to make things happen. Some wait for a fairy tale. Some just wish for a miracle.
But we all hope, because hope is what humans are built on. Of one kind or another. Of one magnitude or another.
Every moment, every day, we hope. For things to become better, or for them to remain the same. It’s what we thrive on, it’s what we survive on.
That young boy hoped to defeat the elder boys from the neighbouring colony and prove that his team of smaller boys was good enough.
That young girl hoped to defeat what the world would feel is written for her – a life of poverty and struggle – and make something of whatever she has.
That homeless man at the temple hoped something, a force of nature maybe, would give him a shot at living a life of dignity.
And that older gentleman would hope his loved ones continue to prosper and be comfortable and happy. He may have internal struggles nobody knows a thing about, as is very often the case with these successful and ostensibly happy people, and he may hope for some inner peace. As a lot of people who’ve seen good money say, beyond a normal comfort level, it doesn’t really matter. Maybe for him too, it doesn’t matter. And he’s hoping for something else.
Everybody hopes. Sometimes even without knowing what we want.
But we live, and we hope each day. In search of that elusive something. If we keep at it, we’ll find it one day. All we need, all we have is hope.