People might argue that everything going around us has been pre-planned. God, in his funny ways, has laid out everything straight for each and every one of us. He has decided upon the destination, worked upon the journey, and sometimes, to make things exciting for him and his outlandish kith and kin who are just there to watch the ‘show’, he even did add forks at some concourses of life. While a man in all his might, no matter how ‘feeble’ or ‘ineffective’ it may be, tries to make his ends meet, ‘GOD’ watches and watches and...... If the man gets screwed over, people would tell you, ”Oh! God wanted to teach him a lesson.

He has his ways”. But if the poor guy manages to turn things around INCLUDING the ‘screwing over’ part, the idiot who made the previous comment would still have another excuse, “See! I told ya. God has his ways”.

I could sound a bit of a ‘wet blanket’, but disproving religion is not my point here. My point is the acceptance of the fact that nothing is permanent, nothing is pre-planned. Life- it’s an open bible. Entropy or randomness is something that characterises our life at every instance and that is the fact essential for life to propagate in a spontaneous manner, a fact that science proves. Change is the only constant of life.

Whatever ‘talking through the hat’ the old bearded gentleman living in the extreme realms of the zenith seems to be doing, could or could not be true, but it is definitely misleading. Now, I remember something which I came across, “We cannot choose where we come from, but it is definitely up to us to decide where we go to.” And I could not have found a better explanation to this, until one day.

Calcutta had been filled to its brink. Kalbaisakhi had set in and the incessant water had made things beautiful and difficult both at the same time. Beautiful- for, there is nothing more pretty than Calcutta in rains and difficult- for, many people (including me) hate getting drenched in rain.

I may sound a bit of a loser, but my desire to witness a pretty scene was overwhelmed by the instinct of escaping the rain. Stranded at a corner of Dharmatala(or Esplanade), one of the oldest and happening places of the City Of Joy, with Central avenue to the north, Park street to the south, Bow Bazaar on my right hand side and none other than the Hoogly river to my left, I was trying to haul a taxi. And trust me, finding a taxi in Calcutta, especially in times of need does not count amongst the easiest of things. Unlike the three wheeled coffins that one finds in Delhi at every nook and corner, the yellow ambassadors are a precious commodity in Calcutta. But somehow I managed to get hold of one and that is when I met him.

His name was Rajiv Maiti. Driving taxis had been his vocation for more than a score of years. With great pride that gave sheen to the gleam in his eyes, he reinstated at least twice how he knew every street and para (locality) of Calcutta. His father had been a farmer, but alcohol had been dearer to him than his family.

And one day, in intoxication, he had sold away everything for filling his coffers to ensure the latter supply of wine and women. Rajiv went on to tell me how always wished to go to school. He wanted to be a teacher. But the ennui his father showered upon him, gave him none other option than to buckle up and take up responsibilities for his mother and his array of sisters. His initial days had been one of a porter at Howrah Railway Station, but pride was not something this job offered.

It made him strong and tenacious, and after a couple of years, with the little money he had saved, he decided to learn how to drive. He went on to say that kids now-a-days, insist their parents to help them learn how to drive in their fancy cars- call it fun, excitement, or the sense of pride when you take your friends for a drive. But for Rajiv, it was not the question of fun; it was the question of survival.

Rajiv has a son, just one. Oh! Why did I say that? Think about it. His father was always apathetic to him. But, he had realised that apathy was not something that was meant to be inherited. He had always felt the urge to become the ‘father’ to his child- one that he never felt he had. He had cut away all his expenditures and started to work double shifts to save money for his child’s education. With hours of toil and penance, he had managed to afford to send his child to a reputed public school. Things may not have always been easy, but he had never compromised when it came to his son or his education.

There were times, he told me, that his son returned home heart-broken feeling inferior to the ugly display of means by his richer compatriots. But Rajiv never stopped talking about education and how the horizons opened when one had it. It was only last year that Rajiv’s son got himself selected for admission in one of the reputed engineering colleges of this country. Now it is just a matter of years, and his son will have a job. His son will be an engineer, something he claims with tears in his eyes and joy in his heart.

The screeching brought a halt to the vehicle. I had reached my destination. Climbing up the stairs, I was wondering how many are endowed with Rajiv’s fate and how many out of them actually shape out their own destiny. Rajiv could have turned out to be just like his father but he did not. Why? Even in his plight, his moral never touched the ground. His son will have job- a proper job, a fact that many well-to-do of the society will dismiss with a slight nod.

But to Rajiv, it is a reflection of his struggle, his toil, his penance, and how he finally made it. And, oh! Such was the kind-heartedness of the ‘poor’ soul that he refused to take money from me for having been so nice and all ears.

We cannot choose where we come from, but we can decide where we go to.

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