Tuesday, 24 August 2010


There is the story of a doctor having told a patient that he had tried everything to save the patient and had finally come to the conclusion that nothing would work at that hopeless stage. “Is there anything that you would want to do before you die?” the doctor asked. Even though the patient was feeble and despondent, his response was prompt, “Yes, I would like to see another doctor.” Truly, life exists for us as long as hope exists. Robert Browning, the great poet of hope and optimism, in his poignant poem titled ‘Evelyn Hope’, had this to say at her death:

“So hush, I’ll give you this leaf to keep,
See, I put it in the cold white hand.
Now there is our secret that goes to sleep;
You will wake up and remember and understand!”

We may not be aware but a considerable part of our day is taken up with hopes. These are routine hopes. Small or big but they keep us going. Here are a few examples:

  • We hope that the number that we have dialed, especially if it is that of Railway or Airport Enquiry would not be engaged.
  • We hope that the milkman or the maidservant won’t be sick the next morning.
  • We hope that Indian and especially Mumbai roads would improve.
  • We hope that there won’t be a wedding party in the club next door so that children could study.
  • We hope that finally after finishing the work around the house when we step into the bathroom the water won’t play truant.
  • We hope that no one would ring the doorbell when we watch our favourite TV programme.
    We hope that the boss in office won’t think of another new and bright idea.
  • We hope that when finally we get our turn, the doctor won’t be called for “something important”.
  • We hope that sanity would somehow return to Pakistan.
  • We hope that finally we would be able to repay the house loan so that we can start calling it ‘Apna Ghar’.
  • We hope that the next Hindi movie that we watch would have a different story.
  • We hope that one day the duration of TV programmes would be more than that of the advertisements.
  • We hope that our politicians, bureaucrats, and police personnel would understand the true meaning of the term 'public servant'.
  • We hope that the noise during the forthcoming festival season would be restricted and public places such as roads would be free for the use for which they are made.

There is no end to it. We hope and hope and hope. Sometimes, some of our hopes come true directly or indirectly and make us happy. However, always it is worth hoping for. Our son, for example, is a die-hard Indian cricket team fan. They can be 143 for 6, requiring another two hundred runs to win but he still hopes that they would win. Once he was proved right, the night when even Kaif’s parents went to see ‘Devdas’ rather than be witness to sure ignominy. Since then, it is not he but we who hope. We hope that there won’t be another ODI during the exams!

Hope is like sunshine through the clouds. It is like raindrops on parched land. Hope is a lighthouse by which we steer our ship in troubled waters. However, hopes transcend the boundaries of mere wants and desires when we do so selflessly. Supposing all people on earth would hope that poverty, hunger and violence would be wiped out forever; do you think they would stay? Supposing some of us would hope to see the smile on the face of a child who lost his parents in bomb blasts, do you think it would never come back? How wonderful the world would be if each of us would hope for something for others at least once in a month!

The other day I was reading about Mata Amritanandamayyi. Why would everyone, from famous to rich, from poor to hungry, from strong to helpless come to see her or be hugged by her? She hopes for others and provides them with a ray of hope.

Yes, it is alright to hope for promotion, for a better house, for a gift or reward, for a holiday and more pay. It is even okay to hope for “zara si lift kara de.” However, once in a while one must hope something for others.

"Lead kindly light,
Keep thou my feet.
I don’t want to see
The distant scene;
One step enough for me."

In a small village called Ayikuddy near Tirunelvelli, my wife and I went to see a polio rehabilitation centre called ‘Amar Seva Sangam’ and discovered the very embodiment of Hope. The President and all staff of the centre are invalid. The President, Mr Ramakrishnan, is so paralytic that he requires help to even turn in bed. His condition became so when he had an accident many years ago at the time when he was about to join the Navy as a commissioned officer. Yet when we saw him he had the most beatific smile on his face. He runs a centre that provides succour to other polio stricken children. In his hopeless situation he provides hope to hundreds of young boys and girls! After that whenever our own situation is unfavourable, our faces light up when we think of him.

Hope never dies. Next only to Life, it is the second greatest gift of God to us. Why hope? Hope, so as to live better and make others live better. Some four letter words are not bad at all!

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