I was born in a remote village near Haridwar. We did not have any ancestral property. The family was dependent entirely upon small earnings from the tourists who often visit Haridwar on religious tour.
There are four holy temples Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath on the hills also known as Chardham. Haridwar is like a entry point to these Chardham. People visit Haridwar before visiting these temples so the town was becoming famous as Haridwar.
My father had little formal education. But he knew Sanskrit well. He had sound knowledge of the Geography of Haridwar and Charodham. He had excellent rapport with visitors who would often refer him to his friends and relatives visiting Haridwar. He was an honest and reliable person. He used to charge reasonably. He was, therefore, considered to be a good guide. Money thus earned by him was the only means of subsistence for our family.
We were two brothers and one sister. Besides my grandfather and parents together formed a family of six. My grandfather used to spend a lot of time with us. He would tell us lot of inspiring stories. He wanted us to study and acquire the highest education which according to him was the best single instrument for bringing about total change in the life time of a man. So, he started sending us to a nearby school and would also sit with us daily in the morning and evening to complete the daily tasks.
My younger brother Raja and sister Renuka were average students. However, they excelled in extracurricular activities. My younger brother was a good singer. My sister, used to make very good paintings. I used to excel in academics and scored cent percent in Mathematics.
One day the School Inspector came to inspect the school. The teachers of the school introduced me to him. They did so because I was the best student of my school and could have satisfied the School Inspector so that the teachers could have gained some extra points. The Inspector asked me many questions drawn from different subjects. I answered them all. Then he started enquiring about my family. I told him the details. He was pained to know my poor family background and immediately recommended grant of scholarship which would cover my entire expenditure including lodging and foods. He also met with my brother and the sister. They were average students but had excelled in extracurricular activities. So, he recommended them to be sent to the Arts schools.
A small but timely help changed my life entirely. I started doing well in my studies and qualified in all entrance examinations. I soon completed my B. TECH course and became an engineer in the government. So, my life changed entirely. My sister and brother, too, did well in the arts school and got excellent degrees in the respective field. They got Government jobs immediately after passing the degree examination. Thus, the status of the family changed entirely within years.
I got married in a good family. My wife was well educated. She belonged to a respectable family. I used to keep busy with my job but she spent her entire time and energy in bringing up our children. I had one son and one daughter. We gave them our best and ensured that they did not have to face any difficulty and could develop to the best of their abilities and talent.
We also served our parents in their old days. They had brought up us with great difficulties and had left no stone unturned to provide us with the opportunities of life. No doubt we were meritorious but his contribution was immense but for which we could not have prospered as we did. My wife, too, helped me a lot in performance of my duties towards our parents.
My parents died in course of time. I was feeling their loss very much. They were living Gods for us and had always been doing the best for our welfare. But death is inevitable. One day everybody has to die. Only I remembered Vivekananda:
Great men have died. Weak men have died. Gods have died. Death — death everywhere. This world is a graveyard of the infinite past, yet we cling to this [body]: "I am never going to die". Knowing for sure [that the body must die] and yet clinging to it. There is meaning in that too [because in a sense we do not die]. The mistake is that we cling to the body when it is the spirit that is really immortal
I was growing old. I retired from my government service with good pension and other pensionary benefits. My wife too, had grown old. We were living in a big house having four stories but there were only two persons living there-me and my wife. I, too, was not keeping well. So, I thought to call my son and request him to reside with us. He promised to return to the home town after getting transferred within a few months but this never happened.
My daughter is married to a Computer Engineer settled in USA. At the time of marriage, he was serving in India but moved to the USA and finally settled there. My daughter although well-educated is house wife. She has two sons. Both are school going. My son is holding top position in a MNC and is posted at Mumbai. His wife, too, is an MBA from IIM and well employed.
Years have passed since then. I and my wife are living without any assistance from my son or daughter. One night while it was raining heavily, my wife became seriously ill. I had none to help me[p1] . I took her to the hospital. I was driving the car. It was difficult to manage the situation as I was driving and caring for her as well. Somehow, I reached the hospital. By the time I reached the hospital her condition was deteriorating fast. Luckily the Doctor attended on her promptly. At the outset it looked as if she was improving but that was only a temporary relief. Her condition started deteriorating fast. The Doctors attending upon him tried their best but she was not responding.
The Sun was spreading its rays all round. It was time for people to get up, and start daily Corus. But my life partner was breathing her last. Her heart was stopping to work further and finally she breathed last at about 8AM.It was darkness around my eyes. The radio was playing the music:
Anshu bhari haiye jivan ki rahen……….
I had lost my life partner. I searched around. There was none to console. I had informed my daughter as well as my son but neither could come. Their mother kept waiting. She often remembered her son whom she had so fondly nurtured. She was always talking about her daughter but could not talk to either of them even once. Now that she was lying dead, and I was weeping all olone.
I asked hospital authorities to put the dead body of my wife in the ambulance and leave me at my place so that I could wait for my son to come. In the meantime, I sent telegrams to my son and daughter. It took time to get the ambulance as it had gone to drop another dead person. It was made available around noon. By the time it came I was, too, much tired. With hardly anybody around I was not understanding how to move further. Anyway, I left alongwith the dead body of my wife in the ambulance alongwith a staff of the hospital which was made available by the medical superintendent on my request.
The dead body of my wife was lying for more than 24 hours. My son and daughter both were unable to reach. They could not pay even to pay last homage. I was left with no option to perform the last rites on my own. Some neighbours helped me. I lit fire to the pyre of my wife. My eyes were full of tears. Everybody present there was sad and sympathising with me.
I did everything to educate my children. I gave them best education which helped them to settle well in life but neither of them could help us in the crucial moment when I needed them most. Her mother kept waiting till the last but could not see them even for a moment. She died with her eyes open and ever thirsty to see her children even once before it was shut down for ever.
After two days I received condolences from my daughter. She conveyed her inability to attend the rituals because of visa problem of her husband. My son came after three days when everything was over. He had so many stories to tell about his own difficulties because of which he could not come earlier. I was really socked to listen such things. All through my life I kept on worrying about my family. I invested my entire energy for their welfare. But none of them could help me when I needed them most.
After completing formalities relating to the last rites of my wife, I left my home to take solace in the silent zone of a forest. There I met with a saint who was passing by. He took me to his ashram located nearby. I stayed there with him for a few days. In between, I had frequent interactions with him. He had in depth understanding of life and was free from temptations. He had no ego. He had no greed. He, in fact, was a living God!
Gradually I understood futility of earthly possessions. These could never deliver peace of mind rather create more difficulties in the form of routine upkeep and sense of ownership. So, I dedicated my entire wealth to this Ashram. The saint was not interested intaking anything but I convinced him that this wealth be used for the welfare of senior citizens and differently abled persons. The saint agreed with the condition that he would not be bothered about the management of the ashram.
Years have passed away since I left home and decided to live alone ….Now ,I am free from all bondage. I am living in perfect peace . I expect nothing. I have realized that one should do good things without expecting anything in return.Walking alone with knowledge of reality of life has given me lasting peace of mind.Now I firmly believe that real happiness is within and running after material things do not help in the long run.