On the way to dinner last week, we spotted a kid on the sidewalk doing his homework by the dim light of the street lamp across the road. He probably had no electricity at home, and this was the only way he could study after dark. Moreover, he was rather emaciated– probably eats less in a day than I eat in a meal. It was so touching to see his dedication that I felt a knot in my throat. I immediately thought of the Aurolab engineer who was the first person in his family, or village to attend college– who studied every night until midnight on the road under the one streetlight and only point of electricity in his village– whose family took on high-interest loans to fund his education– whose monthly salary was less than his loan payments.
When we rounded the corner, we bought a few kilos of fruit and took it back for him. Murali needed a new pen too, so he got mine. And he’s getting my Flintstone chewable multivitamins. Murali is 15, but he looks about 8. He’s less than half the size of my 16 year old cousin in California.
What moved me was not just his incredible determination, but the contrast between his attitude and what mine would have been. I’ve protested and complained quite loudly over much smaller inconveniences. I’ve shirked studying for far more petty reasons– and blamed circumstances rather than myself. I would have found a path of lesser resistance long ago in his situation.
But Murali does it all without complaint. Without sadness. Without asking “why me?”
And then I felt it. My indebtedness to Murali for showing me how every part of my life is privileged. And for reminding of the proper attitude in life– gratefulness.
There are so many things here in America that I wanted for my own impoverished country. In time, however, I found that that the people here are not so happy, on average, as the peasants in India–many of whom cannot afford more than one meal a day. Despite the material prosperity here, people haven’t the same inner happiness. Americans are satiated with a plethora of sense pleasures. Happiness eludes them for the simple reason that they seek it everywhere except in themselves. —Paramahansa Yogananda