Choices

We are often defined by the choices we make. The choices we make often leads us to path through which we could finally arrive to our destination, but what if we make the right choice and it drives us to a destination that we never for once ever imagined or wished to be at. This is a story of one such being, who, despite being subjected to all sorts of travails and turbulences, set out, at a tender age of 13, to earn bread and butter for his family, was quite literally swept off the shores and transported to a new country by reckless tides, wherein he had to dreadfully and mercilessly serve 21 years of prison time.

Yes, as fictitious as this sounds, but this was one such flabbergasting reality that Mr. Moovalli Narayana was unfortunately a part of.

Mr. Moovalli Narayana at the mind power conference held at IFIM institutions

I, being in my early twenties, have had many instances in life wherein I could not cope up with a few hours of exile or even isolation for that matter, but, on Tuesday, 16th of October, when I happened to hear this man out, in person, I was in for a sheer and utter shock of my life.

As he raged through with a microphone in his hand, defiance in his eyes, indefatigability in his speech and truth in his heart, it moved the entire hall to tears, with goose bumps running through our body.

Mr. Narayana, after a few stints at earning his daily wages, was finally fermented to work in the shores of west coast of India, the sprawling metropolitan city, Mumbai, as a boat mechanic. On one ill-fated day, when he was out to fix a boat, he was taken in by the fierce waves, pugnaciously transporting him to a different part of the sea. Perhaps, he was completely unaware of the fact that a substantial part of his life would plunge into a harrowing sea. His last significant and celebratory memory with his family was when he got his sister married. Post her marriage, she was renamed by her in laws, and hence, the protagonist of this tale, fell prey to the cruel games of the antagonistic time. “I tried finding my sister after I was brought back to the country, but I later found out that her name was changed after marriage and I couldn’t trace her” he said. He also went on elaborating the aftermath of that laborious phase of life, when he had absolutely no money to embark on a new journey. More painful was the fact that his mother failed to recognize him when he stood at the door side, waiting for her to hug him and emancipate him of all the pain. He ponders over the initial few days post his release, “I was given 140 rupees, which I used for over a week…” He literally had to pay a hefty price for things he had definitely not brought upon himself.

I am not here to ruffle his feathers, because quite frankly what’s transpired is nothing short of a devastating and enervating truth that he has and all of us have to fathom and live with, for there isn’t much that could be said or done about that. I will leave it for you to interpret as per your understanding. However, we do have a few pertinent questions before us today. Are we persistent enough to lead a life? Are we strong enough to face the consequences of our choices? Most importantly of all, are we up for a game called ‘life’? Yes, these were few questions raised that day, answers to which we could provide through a few convincing words and thoughts or, perhaps through the way we lead our lives, fearless to its propositions, motivated by each other’s experiences and of course, the most basic emotion known to mankind- Love.

If you’re wondering as to why I mentioned ‘love’ in this context, well, firstly, it isn’t my dominant expression in this particular context, it is what Mr. Narayana who, painfully remembering his days in that austere environment of the Pakistani prison, believed what kept him afloat. “I always wondered how my mother would be…” he said, choking on his words. We had our moment of epiphany, I suppose. That was the moment in time when we discovered what it meant to love and be loved. We knew exactly what it meant to lead our lives. What it meant to stay strong no matter how harsh life gets. What it meant to be brave, and most of all, what it meant to harbor hope that transcends everything else.

Mr. Narayana now works at a small bakery, where he says he is trying to cope with all the advancements that has supposedly left him back tracked. He considers this a “sweet struggle”, nothing compared to a vacuum that the years of exile left behind. He also lost his mother after a few years of his release. But did that put him down once and for all? Did that stop him from coming before us and giving us the life lesson that he delivered? NO. In fact, he conveyed to us, in a short span, something that we could perhaps take a lifetime to understand. He rekindled our existence and filled it with a ray of hope and love, he left us with one imperative thought that could easily be translated as a tool for survival. He explained to us the importance of acknowledging choices. Choice to right the wrong. Choice to move ahead without hesitation. Choice to be brave. Choice to be bold. Choice to love. Choice to live.

The biggest take-away from his life story was perhaps our own lives…renewed, revisited and rejigged.

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