As a teenager when I should have been studying to make a good career for myself, I didn't. Years later, when I found myself struggling to find some space in this world, I realized my mistake. Regretting my irresponsible behaviour as a teenager, I tried to make amends by joining a plethora of online courses recently.
One of the courses I enrolled for was a two-month course on creativity. It was quite an interesting course and one of the important lessons I learned (Or, did I?) was to defer judgement. While trying to solve a problem, think of as many ideas as possible. Some ideas which come to your mind might be bizarre, but don't reject them outright, I learned. It is quite possible that the seemingly bizarre ideas could be turned around into workable solutions.
I liked this lesson immensely; it is not just in matters of ideas but deferring judgement helps in every situation. I should know this because I have landed myself in several embarrassing situations owing to my propensity to make hasty judgements. Henceforth, I told myself, I am going to defer judgement.
As I said there had been innumerable instances when my inability to defer judgement had landed me in a soup or caused me embarrassment. But one particular incident, which occurred decades ago, is still vivid in my mind.
We had built a house in a godforsaken place. There were only a few houses in the vicinity, there were no roads, no electricity and no water! But one good thing about the place was that it had a sylvan rural appeal - peaceful and serene.
There were soldiers' barracks about a kilometre away from my house and there was a tap outside the barracks. The good soldiers did not mind the few locals from drawing water from the tap. The task of fetching water had fallen on me and I had to hook four 20-litre cans to my bicycle (two in front and two in the rear) and fetch the elixir. There were no roads, as I said; the path to the barracks was rocky and, besides, the barracks were situated downhill. It was an easy task to reach the barracks but tough to manage the upward journey back home. During the rains, it would become slippery and rather difficult to negotiate.
So, there I was huffing and puffing one day like any other day struggling to push my bicycle forward after I had filled the cans.
I heard the sound of clapping behind me. I turned my head and saw a little fellow, seven or eight years old, claping in glee.
I gnashed my teeth, but did not say a word - the fellow was obviously enjoying my discomfiture.
I stopped to rest, and the fellow also stopped. In fact, I had been progressing very slowly and the boy could have easily overtaken me and gone his way. But, no. When I stopped, he stopped. When I started moving, he followed. Now, wasn't that annoying! I had a good mind to slap him.
I, now, came to a particular steep spot and try as hard as I could, the bicycle refused to move even an inch forward. I muttered some oaths under my breath, and proceeded to kick the bicycle in fury. But the bicycle was deaf to my oaths and impervious to my violence. It simply would not move.
The clapping had stopped and there was absolute silence. I had once again halted to consider my situation. The boy was still there somewhere behind me.
This steep climb was only a fleeting obstacle; if I could negotiate it then there was level ground ahead and my progress would have been smooth thereafter. I reached a decision - I will give it a last try calling into service all the energy I possessed; if that did not work, then I would remove the cans and carry them singly across the steep obstacle one at a time.
So, there in a fresh burst of energy I pushed the bicycle and, hey presto, the bicycle moved easily as though it was on a paved road.
How did this magic happen? I turned my head once again and saw the little fellow pushing the bicycle with all his might. That changed the complexion of things. All this while, I had been thinking evil thoughts about the boy and here he comes and saves the situation!
I was overcome by remorse. I had been unjust on the fellow. I dug into my pockets and withdrew a few coins.
"Here, buy yourself some chocolates," I told him.
He slapped me once again (I mean figuratively, not literally). "I didn't do it for money," he said.
This had me blushing in shame. "We will share the chocolates," I told him. This time, the little fellow grabbed the coins and bounded away to do the needful.