Crossing the school building, as I was about to take the turn, a yellow painted hoarding attracted my attention. It read ‘Tips for Happiness in Daily Life by Ratnakar Babu’.
For the past few days I was not feeling good about anything. Though my retirement was due in next few months only I had already started to hate my job. Running for the office early in the morning and doing routine jobs all the day long…..Oh! I was sick of these things and badly needed a break.
Quite naturally the hoarding ‘Tips for Happiness in Daily Life” hit a chord and my car came to a halt. What tips and tricks Ratnakar Babu might have up his sleeve?
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An assistant waited outside. I took an appointment for the next day. I tried to know from him what kind of tips for happiness in daily life were given by Ratnakar Babu but he didn’t indicate anything.
Next day at 4PM I was on the door of the happiness chamber. As I entered I saw another client sitting in the waiting room. I offered a ‘Hi’ but he didn’t care to respond. He only threw a sad glance at me.
“I’m number 4. What number are you?”
He said calmly, “I,m not a number. I’m a man.” Then he completed, “A sick man.”
“Sorry. You look sad. Sorry if I hurt you. I’m sad too.”
“But I’m more sad.”
“Because I fail utterly in whatever I do”
The man was wearing a worn out sweater and sat with his legs folded on the cushion of the chair. His woebegone face definitely indicated he was a loser everywhere as he had said.
“I tried to contact this Ratnakar Babu five times but he was not available. I always came here, found the door locked and every time I had to go back empty-handed. Somehow, yesterday I met that compounder and got an appointment. I don’t know how much time Ratnakar Babu is going to spend with this number 2.”
I was now convinced that he was number 3 and I was the one next to him.
I said, “Why do you need to visit in person? You could have booked an appointment over phone or internet?”
“Oh! Sir nothing comes easy. My land line phone was out of order and broadband internet connection had been cut-off due to non-payment of bill. I though of speaking over my cell phone or use its data. But there was no cash balance. I wanted to recharge my cellphone on-line but as internet wasn’t working I couldn’t. I came out in the market but the market was closed on Tuesday.”
I was smiling. But the man said, “Please don’t laugh. You never fail like me everywhere otherwise you’d have known this.”
“What happened then?”, I asked in a polite voice.
“Then I walked to this Ratnakar Babu’s chamber and the door was locked. Just go on counting….my failures…Mr….”
“Mr. Brajendra…, Brajendra Singh.”
” Somehow I found a shop which was open even on Tuesday . But see how my difficulties multiply. That seller had only one recharge coupon left and that cost Rupees 500. ”
“I guess you had no other option than buying it.”
“A bad guess. I tried to buy it. The shopkeeper offered to let me use his internet so that I could pay him on line. But you know? My bank account was blocked because I hadn’t done any transaction in last two years.”
It was getting difficult for me to control my laughter.
He continued, “Desperate, I went to the bank, submitted an application asking to render my dormant account operational.”
“With great difficulty, it means, you were able to withdraw money from your account.”
“Wrong again. My signature didn’t match the one with my account. Then I went to my friend to borrow some money. But he informed there had been a burglary at their house the previous night. The thieves had taken away all the money and jewellery. ”
I had burst into laughter by then. Unable to control my laughter any more I said, “Please…stop…stop..and forgive me. I want to stop laughing but I can’t.”
The man stood up, turned towards me and took off his sweater.
“Welcome to ‘Tips for Happiness in Daily Life’. Ratnakar Babu here.” He extended his hand towards me.
I stood up, surprised. Shook hands. The man had removed his sweater and combed his hair. His face looked bright now.
“Please come inside. This was my intro. Next week you, me and 7 other mavericks like us push-off for Ooty where our actual lessons begin.”
“I hope the classes will be over in a week.”
“Bad guessing again. One more week will be required.”
” Sir, how much will it cost?”
Surprised I ask, “Free? I don’t believe this.”
“No. I mean no cash. We accept only cheques or payment through credit cards or internet banking.”
We laughed out loudly.
The therapy has begun. I promise to keep you posted as the classes advance.