“Sir, I hate to admit, but you are right”, the same man who had earlier commented from his sofa now got up and asked for permission to share his realization.
“Please”, Aki encouraged him
“I was at the Wankhede stadium when Sunil Gavaskar played his last international match which was the semi-finals against England during the 1987 world cup. He was booed by his own home crowd as he walked back to the pavilion after a cheap dismissal. India lost that match. I felt sad because Gavaskar at that time was a legend; he had scored the most runs and centuries in international cricket but no one in the packed stadium acknowledged even as the English players lined up and offered a gracious applause of honor. It was a pity; here in his own Mumbai his achievements were ignored because the crowd wanted to see the Indian team win the match. I remember a few years before this incident, a man dying of cancer had approached Gavaskar and had requested him to score a century because that was his last wish he wanted fulfilled before he died. That was Gavaskar’s stature but a lonely end to his career. I felt sad for him”
“Hmm…so the point I was making was..”, Aki smiled and paused
“I think I am lost” confessed Aki, “I am sorry, where were we; the discussion has gone way off what we intended to”
“Oh no, please don’t be sorry”, another guest, a neighbor of Lal spoke up. “We are happy you are addressing the burning issue of our Nation. In fact I am surprised there is so much relevant discussion. I was wondering why Lal called me for a satsang and I couldn’t refuse him. But I am so happy I came because you are addressing our issues. This is really important”
“Yes, we were on Extended sense gratification, and Dhritarashtra”, Aki regained control of the talk, “Let’s not forget the theme. We suffer because we enjoy and when we can’t enjoy something ourselves, we identify with those who can and then seek the same pleasure subtly in our minds, through their enjoyment”
“But what’s wrong with that?” another neighbor was curious to know.
“Oh we deny ourselves a higher source of pleasure; the pleasure experienced by connecting to our own selves, and to God. We are so lost in the petty pleasures that we forget we have an existence beyond this silly game. There is more to life but the gushing waves of the river of time would soon separate us from our positions and possessions. And then we lie on our deathbeds lamenting at our lost life. Cheer up, be happy in life and seek spiritual pleasures beyond cricket, Bollywood and politics”
More questions followed and en elderly lady, a retired school principal spoke up, “I am glad you discussed this because somebody else plays cricket and earns money and enjoys. We just waste our time and money watching them. I never understood why people spend their precious time on this silly game?”
“Oh, it’s definitely better than your silly kitty parties”, her husband seated on the other end of the hall shouted while others laughed.
The mood was light and everyone seemed to enjoy the program.
A lunch feast followed the event, and the monks had to now rush back to the temple.
Lal came to the station to see them off and confessed to Aki, “Thanks a lot, for a long time I wanted these guys to take to spiritual life but didn’t know how to connect to them. But you spoke exactly what they needed to hear. You are a genius Aki”
Aki was modest and thanked his host for inviting them.
The train left the station and no one said anything. It was 3.00 pm now and the coach had more passengers than the morning. Still it was comfortable- if you could say so- because one bench in any compartment would comfortably seat only three passengers but the fourth man would squeeze in with barely a few centimeters of space to park his bottom. And today it was Shyam who struggled to retain his balance as his left buttock slipped away from the seat. Meanwhile more passengers joined in at the next station; they were standing and the crowd coupled with the noise made their conversations inaudible.
“There is no way we can hear Shyam’s story now”, Venky reminded the others about the pending story.
At Borivalli, many people got off and new passengers entered. As the train halted, almost instantly Shyam, and Kishor got up and rushed to the seats in front of Aki and Venky. Now the four were facing each other and a meaningful chat was more likely to happen now.
“Yes, our dear Shyam is now going to unravel the mystery of his history” Venky moved forward while Aki and Kishor smiled at Shyam, and sat straight.
To be continued……