He was the only son of his parents, and very obviously one brought up with lot of care and affection. He was brilliant at school, in studies and games, and all other activities they were made to do in class; he was simply the best in all. Even now at college he just excelled.
But there was something lacking, something which made him incomplete, and he felt this too, and often he thought that this something lacking is his inability to speak fluently, for he stuttered a bit while speaking. He would often complain to his mother, that though he has excelled in every field, he could not do so in speech. His speech retarded him of most things that required oral skills. He would get uncontrollably frustrated if he ever was unable to perform something that required smooth talking.
And his anger at such moments knew no bounds; he would cry and scream endlessly, break and tear all that came within his reach, for he hated losing so much. And his little bit of stammering would drive him mad, and what more he could not even show his anger without stuttering there as well, and this made him even angrier.
His mother would try to no avail, to pacify him and console him, reminding him of all the other things that he was exceptionally capable of doing, and did them better than most others. But her words would simply fall on unheeding ears.
It happened so once, that in a competition at his college, of speaking extempore, his friend won the prize, not that he lost, for he had obviously not participated at all. But matters went wrong when his friend after accepting his trophy spoke to all from the dais, and just said, “I am extremely grateful to God that he blessed me with this ability of speaking well, and it is because of Him that I am standing here today”.
These words of his friend kept ringing in his ears; all the way back home, he kept thinking, God…blessing….speech….standing here today…..God…blessing….
His mother, noticing a look of great thoughtfulness on his face, asked him what the matter was, and he repeated to her the words of his friend. His mother felt happy, she thought that perhaps through his friend her son had now at last learnt to be grateful about what he has with him, than blabber about what he has not. Then suddenly he blurted out, “So it is Him! He who is responsible, He who made me like this, a stuttering duck! He was gracious enough to bless my friend with good speech and hard on me that he caused me to stammer!”
His mother stood still, a moment ago she had been elated at the thought that her son was at last being grateful, at last being sensible, but now he actually seemed to be holding God responsible for all that he misses because of his little stuttering problem!
He was walking alongside his mother, down the street leading to the evening park. His mother had told him that she had issues to attend to at the park with some of her friends and wanted him to come along, to give her company. He had agreed most reluctantly, but walked with her nevertheless.
She suddenly stopped and said, “There used to be a beggar here, ah! There he is, I always gave him something each time I passed from here, come along we shall give him something today as well”.
The beggar wasn’t a pleasant sight at all, had no shirt on, had lost both of his hands, and when he smiled at them as they approached him, he showed his missing front teeth.
His mother took out a note to give him but it slipped from her hand and fell down, and as she bent down to pick it up again, the beggar stooped low and picked the note with his lips and dropped it into his box of coins, and offered them a toothless smile, accompanying a move of his head, pointing upwards to the sky and then to them, and finishing with a bow.
“Oh! He is saying thank you”, said his mother.
They both continued for the park.
“Poor fellow is he not?” asked his mother, more to herself than to him. She stopped and turned around, to look at that beggar; he was laughing merrily at the sight of a few children playing a little farther down the street, his laugh interrupted by bouts of coughing. “Now, he doesn’t look sad, does he?” she continued.
He perhaps knew where she was heading, but could not help but give her a “what do you mean?” look.
“Come along dear”, she said, shoving him ahead with her hand. “Look son, that beggar there, perhaps has nothing in life to be happy about, right? Just look at the state of him, no proper clothes, living on someone else’s charity, cant work for himself either, no limbs, poor thing, with old age hanging over him, no roof over his head, be it the chills of winter, the heat of summer, or showers of rain, has to stay put on that platform, what else can he do? Has no where to go!”
“But remarkable is it not, that he still finds things to smile about, to feel happy about, things for which to say thank you!”
They had reached the park; she led him to a bench and they sat down, he remained silent, just as he had been all along the way. But his mother knew that he had been listening and listening intently.
“Do you not think son, that, the beggar could easily have blamed it all upon the God who created him, he could have easily said, that it was Him who was responsible for the state he was in, but no, he knows, that this life is nothing but a temporary affair, a bit of testing that is it. A test of faith to pass that is what this life is all about. In every condition of life, you just need to say thank you, thank you for all the good that you have been bestowed with and all the bad that you have been saved from.”
“Just remember one thing, there is no definite limit of things that are good and things that are bad; in all states of life, you shall always find goodness in your own life that others are deprived of, then you be contended and thank your Lord;
You shall also find things that are not so good, not what you desire, but then, there are others in this world who are living a much worse life than you, remember them and again be contended and thank your lord, right?”
“I am going back home, looks like my job is done, you coming along son?” she asked, standing up.
He had been staring at his own shoe laces, and at the sound of his mother, without moving replied chokingly, “I shall join you later”. “Right!” she said, touching him gently on the head.
He closed his eyes as she moved away, he had now realized what it was that he lacked, what it was that made him incomplete, the answer boomed before him: contentment.
The feeling of being contended with all that he had with him, all that he could do, and others could not, contended with all that he had been blessed with and saved from; contentment, for this is the key to happiness.
He picked up a stick lying near by unmindful of what his hands were doing, and moved it unthinkingly over the sand by his feet, then got up to join his mother........
The sand by the bench now read: “Thank you”.