‘I have lately been feeling very confused as if there is a heavy weight on my chest. You don’t mind if I share with you my present state of mind’? Adam asked with a bit of an embarrassment.
‘Not at all, I am all ears for you, feel free to talk to me what worries you’. Jan nodded.
Adam took a deep sigh, ‘ I have lately been feeling very lost, shallow and unhappy’.
‘How about we have the food first’. Jan asked.
Adam got all confused, ‘the young man is either not understanding the depth of my pain or teaching me patience by ignoring it altogether’. He thought.
‘I am hungry, that’s all, please join’. Jan smiled.
Food was served. Jan smiled at his wife, helped her lay out the food on a big mat on the floor. The food was lentil soup and bread, simple and delicious.
John sat on the floor with crossed legs and said: ‘enjoy food, we will resume our talk after that’.
Adam found it hard to sit in one position on the floor. He moved around trying to find a more comfortable position. Complete silence was making it even more awkward. He had never had food like that before, yet he tried hard to adjust without being noticed.
’Eating while sitting cross-legged on the floor helps in digestion. It is our family tradition and old wisdom. Are you comfortable?’ Jan inquired.
’Yes, absolutely’, Adam told a lie.
He waited for Jan to finish his food, who silently had a moment of gratitude after which he got up and started to put the dishes away. Adam helped him.
He thanked his wife and appreciated the food. ‘ Soup was spicy and bread very soft, just how I like it’. Jan remarked.
Shortly they were sitting again on the cane chairs. They pulled their chairs slightly in the sunlight, to have a better view of the garden this time.
‘You must be a good husband, I can see respect and appreciation in your eyes for lentil soup’. Adam could not resist giving voice to his observation’.
Jan laughed and remarked, ‘ my wife is a beautiful soul, her efforts to take care of this house are more than what she gets out of it.’
‘You communicate well too’. Adam observed.
‘A note of thanks and appreciation are like wages, they must be handed over well in time. Like any personal development course, marriage also needs time and emotional investment. I can not afford to buy her expensive gifts but I try to appreciate her for every small and kind gesture’. Jan suggested.
Which left Adam on the verge of reflection. Despite all the riches, he never appreciated his wife the same way. Perhaps it was from his culture or his own selfishness.
‘I have a confession, I had been a very selfish person all my life. I never cherished my wife nor got a chance to apologise to her in her last moments. Since she passed away, the guilt weighs heavy on my heart’.
For the first time, Jan realised the seriousness of the situation.
‘To err is human, pray for her, do some project of social work on her name’. Jan replied with empathy.
Adam answered hastily, ‘you may laugh but at times I feel like making a big castle, something like a Taj Mahal on her name, a colossal piece of an art as a tribute to her’.
Jan smiled, ‘you want to give shape to your guilt and call it Taj Mahal’?
‘No! I just want people to understand the pain of losing their loved one. I want them to cherish them in their life. I want all the life partners to come here, to reform, to sort their differences and leave holding their hands’, Adam remarked in almost a dreamy state.
‘ Did you go to Taj Mahal’? Jan asked.
‘O yes, it’s a wonder of the world, what a beauty.’ Adam recalled.
‘Did you take your wife with you’? Jan asked.
‘No, I did not think it was necessary. I went with someone else’. Adam answered.
‘You see, there are people who want to learn at their own time. You can not change them’. Jan dismissed the idea of Adam.
‘I keep myself very busy, I walk in the mornings, go to work, unwind myself by playing the piano, I travel a lot, yet happiness is far away from me.’ said Adam.
‘My friend, happiness is not a destination nor a retail therapy. The whole world is a wonderland, it’s natural to feel lost from time to time’. Jan answered.
‘I don’t feel lost, I feel burdened with guilt, for not living up in the moment, for taking my wife for granted, I feel a sense of loss’ Adam explained. ‘All because of my ego and arrogance’.
Jan paused for a moment before carrying on, ‘you said you are very close to nature, these emotions come naturally too, you must have learnt the ego from mountains, conceit from jungle and arrogance from lightning.’
He looked at Adam, ‘ this time how about you learn from the sand you walk all over; bury your guilt, erase your memory. Don’t hold sand too tightly in your hand, forgive yourself too’.
‘ I can’t’. Adam confessed.
‘You see the soil in my garden, I often say it is very generous and forgiving. It forgets what was grown in it before. It accepts the change, the reform’.
‘I didn’t get it!’ Adam could not understand a word.
‘Stay grounded, look under your feet, your present, don’t look in your past, you are not going back’. Jan paused only for a moment.
‘Enjoy playing on your piano, sometimes listen to the beat and the music of your heart too, it is here where all happiness is.’ Jan said in almost a musical tone.
‘How?’ Adam asked plainly.
‘You are asking me how when only you know your music, your beat, your song. You are the poet, you are the musician. Kill the doubt in you, that is your enemy. I will see you again sometime.’ Jan concluded.
Adam left Jan in a state of a deep confusion.