I had helped save millions of lives, or so I was told,
And how many more I would help, couldn’t be foretold,
At a time, when people were dying from being in the cold,
I had apparently given survival a brand new foothold.
Everyone fell over each other to doubly praise my work,
Yet none of them thought it was a gift, nature’s quirk,
They all marvelled at how I could have built this framework,
Failing to notice, all I had done, was mend the patchwork.
While all of them talked about how I toiled for over a decade,
None of them spoke about how many times they tried to dissuade,
How they spurned me, when I ran pillar to post, trying to persuade,
But I guess it doesn’t matter, for someone who is seen as self-made.
It always surprises me, how little is known about my contribution,
All that seems to matter, the results are available for distribution,
Only a handful know and saw the real angst, anxiety and perspiration,
But even for them, these were just sights on the way to my destination.
Today is mine, and yesterday there were others, long before me,
But nobody thought to ask me, about the people standing behind me,
They just assumed, these people were providing the expected roots, background,
Discreet, and inconsequential, silently blending with camera, lights, and sound.
Everybody who knows to praise a flower, admire a fruit,
Hardly notice how it was watered, everyday by the root,
Rarely have a kind word to say, about being fed daily by the leaves,
And the not so invisible branch, supporting all that the tree achieves.
I was asked nothing, by those who held me on their shoulder,
Except, that I must never let another’s heart grow colder,
Until my soul deserts me, I will always smile and contribute,
Because, that was all they would take from me, as tribute.
This one is for the Gazebo, since it deals with my expectations. I am still waiting, for that one person who will turn down the Bharat Ratna, citing that those who shaped their lives haven’t received any recognition. This is a continuation of sorts, of the thoughts that made it into Shadows of the Earth. How many times have we pondered on what our thoughts were, when were we getting an award of some sorts.
Most probably, our thoughts would have revolved around how fulfilling getting the recognition is, how rewarding it is to be known for some thing, how pleased our mentors would be. Try counting, among all the times that we accepted an honour, how many times we thought about what our mentor was getting when we were getting this award? I guess, never. That’s how most of us are wired to think, and behave, bask in the warmth of accolades for a job well done.
Very rarely do we come across someone who spends their moment of glory, reminiscing, the contributions. guidance of their mentor, that led to them standing on the dais today, this moment. Even more rare is it, to see someone refuse an award until their awarded something equivalent or better. It is just not done. Our achievements, our glory, is ours and our alone.
Ever wonder, about a constable, who is forced to retire from his job in his early twenties, due to an accident caused trying to save a boy from being hit by a truck. Now imagine, the boy grows up to find a cure to AIDS, and is being awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicene. How many of you think, the boy who wouldn’t be alive, as wouldn’t the cure for AIDS, if not for the constable’s intervention, would refuse to accept the award until it was given away by the constable, or until the constable was given his 150 days of fame, and entered into all textbooks and blogs? Very unlikely.
This poem is about such people, who make an indelible impression on our lives, and then just fade into the woodwork, remembered and known by no one, not even us.