A Gift Wrapped in Darkness

 Stranded Outside my Home – On Saturday, August 4, 2013

The meeting of IITD batch mates at Vigneswari’s house wound up around 9 pm. On the way back, it started raining and it was lashing hard along the way at some places. I reached home and as I searched for the key to open the click type lock, I discovered that I had left the key inside the house. It was past 10 pm. I could hear Lola barking and crying inside, frustrated at having been left alone to fend for herself during the entire day and the encroaching night. Just then, the power supply also was cut off and the entire area around the house was plunged  into darkness. So was everything inside me.

Panicking, I took the car and went to the market nearby to find a lock smith or a hardware shop where I could get a hacksaw. People were rather amused that I was looking for this around 10.20 pm. Furious, frustrated and in the pits, I came back home determined that I would get inside somehow. I couldn’t imagine Lola staying in the house, alone, in the dark and frightened.

I have not been a decent neighbour to anyone staying in the building housing 5 families, though I have been here for nearly a year and a half. I do not talk to them or even smile at them. But I knew I had to muster the courage to take help from them that night. The first thing I did was to request the three bachelors staying in a tiny room, next to my house, to come to my aid.

They obliged, without any hesitation. One of them came with a big grinding stone and started hitting the lock, hoping it would give way. The loud sound woke up the families already asleep. Nearly all of them came out to enquire about the loud sound. I told about my plight to those who came out. One of my neighbours, the man of the house –  I do not know his name even now – came up along with his son, with a hacksaw, a small screw driver and a big sickle – seemingly all the tools they had at hand.

The hacksaw and the man downstairs saved me that night. He asked one of the bachelors to saw the sliding aluminium rod (how fortunate it was in aluminium) inserted into the door frame. I tried to help the tiring young man by taking the saw, but the kind man from downstairs was firm that ‘ayyaa’ should be left alone. Finally, after several agonizing minutes, the aluminium rod was cut and the door was opened.

I thanked the three young bachelors, the man and his son from downstairs very sincerely. Meanwhile, Lola came out panting, grunting and complaining. I took her inside, comforted her and had some food, in the glow of the candle light. I gave Lola too something to eat.

Excepting for the last episode the day was exceptionally wonderful. I wondered why I had to spend about an hour and a half standing outside my house in the darkness, disturbing the peace of my neighbours as well.

I was stranded outside my home on a rainy, dark night for a reason. It happened on the same day I made so many discoveries during the NLP workshop, about the treasures hidden within each person. In fact, I used Saint Exupery’s quote – “What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well” – during an interaction in the workshop.

Some realizations unfurl in the darkness of our lives, while we stand alone, stranded and vulnerable, not at home or congruent in the way we practice what we know.

Some gifts arrive enveloped in darkness. It is important to recognize them when they arrive and treasure them for all time to come.

In those rainy, dark nights filled with despair, one finds his way to his home and heart by touching or being touched by those we come across. They – the old lady cook with whom I am constantly upset, the 3 bachelors living next to my home but are strangers even now, my neighbours, people in my office, my daughter Anusha,  my friends – are in my vicinity to be touched or to touch in some way.

The knowing dawns on me about the meaning of – “no man is an island.”

It will be interesting to reflect and share with a dear one about dark, rainy nights, locked doors, kindness from strangers, opening locks, stepping into my home, being at home and other small things.

I am open to miracles happening every day – like the miracle of a gift wrapped in darkness – I received on Saturday. Of course I should be aware enough – to recognize them as they unfold in their mysterious ways.

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