“ I had a shocker of a journey, mom.”
My son was returning home on vacation after his first term at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He had coped very well in journeying to his place of study without the accompanying baggage of parents, a lad in seeming charge of his invigorating new life. He thought he would tackle the return home with the practice of a pro.
He had kept awake to catch the early morning university transport into Edinburgh, and had completed his security formalities in the transit through London’s Heathrow when he thought he would grab some shut-eye. Without a companion to keep tabs of the time and announcements, the wave of sleep captured him in a fairly deep slumber. He was lucky to wake up with a start to discover the urgent announcement of his name, as the boarding was otherwise over and the flight readying for take –off. A trifle, one may think in the retrospect of successful boarding, but the alternative of missing a flight difficult to consider for an eighteen year old without independent resources in a foreign land, flying homeward with eagerness to make the best of limited time. One’s silent thanks to the British Airways staff who persevered in their duty to ensure all passengers aboard.
On reaching Mumbai airport, the boy declined the offer to be picked up; again it was something he felt he could handle himself. After all, there were plenty of reliable taxis available at the airport. He was in a hurry to catch up with erstwhile school-chums for a concert in the city. It was only some time after his drop-off that he realized with a shock that he was short of a bag- the one that contained his laptop with the hard strivings of an academic term.
A dash to the airport with his father followed. He had not retained the taxi bill, so even tracing the relevant vehicle was a matter of re-construction with the concerned taxi counter. A complaint was filed with the airport police and after some traces and trails, the taxi was located in a large parking lot near Hotel Leela Kempinski. The driver was nowhere in sight, and the car was locked, but the missing bag reposed reassuringly in the backseat. The driver made his appearance in a while, was handsomely tipped for his restraint and the bag retrieved.
Though psyched at the time, with the resilience of the young, my son took his lucky breaks in stride. He even made it to his concert in time and had a great time catching up with friends.
It’s left to me to figure out why he got lucky: if there is a larger principle involved in these providential moments. My own conjecture is that there are various times in which we reach out to others, often unknown recipients of our generosity and goodwill. There is little expectation of the reciprocal, as we act to address another’s need/ problem/pain; the act of responsive sensitivity is its own reward. Yet from one’s practical experience of life, one discerns that good deeds must tot up as credits somewhere to assist in unexpected circumstances, with helpful and kindly others acting as angels to us and ours.
One hopes that near misses/ messes which make undue demands on others don’t happen. When they do, it is often a pleasant reminder that the spirit of being dutiful/helpful/ honest still survive in our impersonal times. Equally one hopes that the connected individuals also experience their benign and providential moments, that the chain of grateful blessings passes on.