Loser, or Maybe Not

By Amar B. Shrestha

I like listening to Kishore Kumar songs, particularly those portrayed by Rajesh Khanna in his many super-hit movies. They were an incomparable pair, the ‘phenomenon’s’ endearing screen roles a perfect vessel for the maestro’s velvet smooth voice. I’m sure there must be millions who agree with me. But, both are no more today. They reached the pinnacle of success in their lifetimes. Fortunately, they have left behind their numerous works for us to appreciate and admire. Yet, at the same time I am forced to think—success, achievement, admiration, and appreciation have no meaning once you are dead.

That’s the kind of mood I am in today as I sit down to write this column. A great feeling of pessimism has fallen over me. You may ask why? Good question, and it deserves an answer, but let me try and explain through some recollections. Once, I was talking to a hot-shot housing developer, who is also an acclaimed architect, and I said to him that, after the great earthquake of 2015, I had realized that all that a man needed was a tarpaulin to shelter him from the elements, so why run after big houses, all so expensive that they would put you into bondage with the banks for the major part of your lifetime. He had responded with: “If everybody thought like you, there would be no development.” Sure, he was right, but the question is: was I wrong?

At another time, an accomplished self-made man commented during a discussion we were having, “We must strive for perfection in all that we do. If there was an indelible ink spot on your white shirt, wouldn’t you throw it away?” My reply was: “There may be some who might think—the rest of the shirt is fine, so why not wear it anyway?” Another comment by this perfectionist was: “I don’t like people who spend their time uselessly, they should be more ambitious.” My response? “Maybe there are some who are happy as they are and don’t want more?”

Now, you might be wondering why such recollections are making me pessimistic. Well, fact is, both the guys mentioned above are rich, riding around in one crore-something cars, with great status in society, and here I am, lucky to own a bike, and maybe with some small status among some people. So, as the years go by, I question again and again, are fame and fortune the aims of life, and should one then be in the rat race throughout one’s lifetime? Did I miss something important on the way by being content and satisfied with what I had by following the dictum of Buddha, “Want not, need not”?

Yet, I am very appreciative of the fact that I get to eat two square meals a day and have a roof over my head, even if it’s just a small apartment. I am thankful to my bike for providing me with the freedom of mobility, and for being so reliable and so cheap to maintain. And, even if I don’t have much, still, giving gives me the greatest pleasure, and I delight in helping anyone who’s in need. So, what do you say? How would you compare my life with the big shots? Am I in an okay spot, or would you call me a loser?