Nihar Sir was a Maths teacher in a school in Odisha. Maths, as we know seems to be the most dreaded subject among students for many reasons be it psychological or lack of good teaching skills. But as amazing as it may sound, students never missed Nihar Sir’s Class! If any student was absent on a particular day due to some reason, he would personally go to their houses and find out the personal difficulty and try to solve it in his own capacity. His unique style of teaching was popular among students. He made the subject so lively that the students fell in love with Maths. He used to have a personal bond with students and made them their own in his very personal way. Students adored him and he was their best teacher. Children who would pass out of the college remembered him till long and paid regular visits to him. He received many accolades as the best teacher in the district and state-level functions.
Nihar Sir had a son who studied well and was good at maths as well as all other subjects. He was a meritorious student and Nihar sir was always very proud of him. He grew up to be an engineer and was posted in Bangalore after completing his studies from a reputed college. He also was a very down to earth son and always ensured to keep his parents name up high with all his endeavor. He had to shift base to Bangalore eventually for his job requirements. Nihar Sir and his wife had personally taken care that their only son had the basic requirements available when he fistr set his foot in the Silicon Valley of India. From finding the best location to stay to arranging his one-room BHK, they involved themselves in every activity, in spite of their son telling them not to take too much stress. But the heart of the parents just oozes out unconditional love for their children . They came back home after their son settled down with pride in their heart and a sparkle in their eyes. After all, it was only Nihar Sir’s son who had made it to the IIT in their whole family and then cracked the interview & got a high package placement in a reputed MNC in Bangalore.
Nihar Sir’s Wife would often say to him,” listen, this is because of your good karma only. You have been passionate all your life and our son did us proud in such a big way. Isn’t it God’s way of granting his blessings! I just worry that he will be able to handle the complicated world out there.”
“Off ho, Laxmi, there is nothing to worry, this world is bad but what matters is how one reacts to their problems in life. I have faith in Deepak. He will make his name ,his very identity. He will shine in the darkness for others like that of a diya. You don’t worry!”
Laxmi Devi, Nihar Sir’s wife , would only smile at this comment.
Time passed by and Nihar Sir also retired from his job. His farewell ceremony was no less than that of a grand celebration in the whole locality. It was like a personal loss to everyone. Nihar Sir retired from the school but not from any one’s heart. People would often visit him and students kept coming to him for either clearing their doubts or seeking blessings. Though many had often suggested Nihar Sir to join politics , considering his popularity ,he would gleefully smile and reject the idea saying it was not his cup of tea. He was happy with his simple life and the way his life had panned out.
Deepak, soon found a suitable mate in his own office and with time they grew closer from friends to partners . Rashmi was a Kannadiga . She had with a smile in her eyes with curly hair and an easy going personality . She belonged to a liberal family where her sisters had married in different communities earlier. So , Rashmi’s family were very welcoming to Deepak from the beginning. However, Deepak was hesitant to take things forward thinking if his parents will ever agree to their son’s choice of getting married outside the community and that too in a different cultural & linguistic community. But Rashmi was like an angel who had come into Deepak’s life when his own light was fading out. He was battling official complications which were deterrent to his position in the office. She seemed supportive enough and being in his team helped him achieve results that made Deepak outshine in the office. This made them come closer to each other and eventually, they fell in love and wanted to spend their lives with each other.
So, Deepak finally mustered the courage & confessed about his relationship to his parents. Astonishingly, his parents agreed instantly and wanted them to get married at the earliest ‘tithi’ available. They got married and lead a blissful conjugal life. They soon became parents to a beautiful girl child. They named her Samaira. Samaira was adorable and from day one & she was adored by her both set of grandparents. The grand parents could not visit the little angel but they used to video call with her every single day, thanks to technology. The virtual world was the only way to get to know Samaira by Nihar Sir & Laksmi Devi . This link was inevitable for both of them. Samaira had also grown fond of Nihar Sir. She somehow could recognize his voice instantly and if someday Nihar Sir could not speak to her, she would cry inconsolably.
Meanwhile, Nihar sir started developing health issues due to his growing age and Deepak took him and his mother to his place in Bangalore so that they could be looked after and taken care of. Rashmi was a very loving daughter in law and made sure that all the needs of her in-laws were fulfilled. Nihar Sir and Laksmi Devi were really happy to get such a caring daughter in law. The most important for the ageing couple was the fact that Samaira was now with them! They could be with her all day long. This very reason was enough to make Nihar Sir feel better health wise. His health condition started improving as well. He was mentally happy to get a full-fledged family . Lakshmi Devi also started adopting the kitchen to herself and would prepare many varieties of delicacies. Deepak’s apartment in Bangalore now was filled with laughter and was filled with warmth & happiness.
Days turned into months and slowly everything went back to a routine affair. Both Rashmi & Deepak were working and had long office hours. They were unable to devote enough time towards their in law’s emotional aspect. All they did was lead to mechanical lives. On workdays, they struggled to meet the daily routine and on weekends it was about arranging the house or complete any banking or shopping transactions. Slowly even Samaira was not being given enough time by their parents. Their dependency on the house help kept on increasing as both had to climb the ladder in their own careers . Deepak & Rashmi hardly knew anyone in their building as they always had paucity of time. They were always in a hurry for meeting office deadlines. Maintaining their social life was limited only in the virtual world. Even that seemed a task! Nihar Sir & Lakshmi Devi would often feel the suffocating lifestyle of their children but they restricted themselves from interfering as they believed a couple should be given privacy to lead their own lives. At their age, they had understood that mental peace was the main thing to achieve rather than being right or wrong. Hence, they kept quite. But it was difficult to see that their children were actually on the wrong tracks in life. This kind of lifestyle would tire them out quickly and life will be a burden to them. They thought of something!
Nihar Sir & Laksmi Devi one day asked their son to conduct Nihar Sir’s Birthday at their apartment. Deepak first heard it and replied.
“What Baba? Whose birthday? Samaira! No No that is like five months more to go. You must have mistaken it.’’
“ No, No… not Samiara’s . I want to celebrate my birthday in a grand way in the apartment itself. Will you please arrange for the same. Do not worry you do not have to take care of the financial burden. I have already planned for the same. I will handle the decoration & catering. But I want you to do the running around. In the native place it was different. I would just say one person and the entire thing would get done as I have stayed their my whole life. But here it is completely different.”, Replied Nihar Sir.
“Exactly Baba. You do not know anyone. So why such a big celebration? Who would even come to attend the party? I am not denying to do all this but I just don’t see the point. We can go somewhere if you want and have a grand feast at home or I can book a five star hotel . I can get the best reservations in the town . All luxuries at your feet. But why all this fuss in the apartment , where I don’t know anyone.?”, asked Deepak.
Nihar Sir looked at Laksmi Devi and they just smiled at each other. Nihar Sir then made a sympathetic face and said that he might die sometime soon and all he needed was a small get together. Seeing his father get emotional, Deepak quickly agreed and Rashmi also nodded for the same.
Soon all the arrangements were made and the invitation cards were distributed in the entire apartment. All this was being done at the command of Nihar Sir. Deepak was sure that it was a wastage of money, time & energy. He was skeptical about who would even turn up for the celebration. Some times, old people loose their mind, he thought to himself.
The party began and with time guests arrived. Deepak & Rashmi were greeting everyone at the gate. They had seen a lot of them in their daily life but they had never made any kind of bond with them. Starting from the Watchman to the vegetable vendor, starting from the Mishrá’s from the 15th floor to Rao’s on the 3rd floor, every single invitee turned up. More astonishing was the fact that everyone knew Nihar Sir & Laksmi Devi and the way they were interacting made it seems as if they knew each other for ages. People came up to Deepak and would praise Nihar Sir for his qualities. Deepak & Rashmi could only look surprised rather than being able to understand what was going on.
How was it then within just a few months, Nihar Sir had become so popular in an unknown community, that too in Bangalore? He seemed to even crack jokes with few south Indians as well. Deepak and Rashmi just could not believe it. It was like Nihar Sir had cracked a code in a distant city!
After the celebrations, Nihar Sir could guess the perplexed face of Deepak. He came up to him and said after putting his hand on his shoulder.
He asked, “what are you thinking son?”
Deepak could just utter a single word, “how?”.
“Connect & Connection are very small words my Son but it makes all the difference. See we connect with a lot of people in our lifetime. For example, you connect with your colleagues, you connect with your friends over a phone call, you make hundreds of connect -points on Social media. What is missing is establishing connections. See I know you are hard-pressed for time. So it might seem futile. But making connections is easy if you understand the art. Building personal relationships requires generating genuine interest in another person’s life. A few kind words, a few smiles, interest in understanding other persons hassles & acknowledging each other’s presence make the whole difference. Without such connections, life is nothing but a machine. When you have such beautiful positive forces around, you feel lively and sometimes help each other out and make our lives beautiful & enriched. You might not understand the deeper meaning now but this mantra of creating positive connections made me stick in my boring teaching profession for so long and whatever little fame I achieved, was because of this only. It’s your life and completely your choice. But you can see, if in a few months I could create such an environment, what will you make with a lifetime of effort.” Nihar sir said in a calm voice.
Deepak looked at his father. His mother was standing beside him. Rashmi was holding samaira and was seated in the nearby Sofa. Deepak felt as if he was a school going boy and Nihar Sir had again imparted his best lesson, this time a life lesson. He reached out to touch his father’s feet to seek blessings. He held his fathers legs and felt his burden in his heart melt away instantly. Nihar Sir, lightly patted his son’s shoulder.
Deepak had understood that code that needs to be cracked was that of Positive Connections that can give life a proper meaning or else it would just become mechanical !