The Crack Remains Forever
The myriad hue of lac bangles lay spread before us in a small road side shop of a bangle seller. It was a small shop and what attracted us to the shop was the seller who had coal burning in a small angeethi and he was holding bangles on the slow heat of the charcoal. We stood wonderstruck outside his shop as it was first time that we saw this kind of treatment meted to bangles! Previous to it, we had seen bangles only suitably displayed in counters of big shops or the small carry along counters of small time bangle sellers. I wondered, why he was doing it to the bangles? Why to subject these bangles to such a torture? I stood outside hi shop and enquired him of the reason for this. Smiling perhaps at our ignorance, he replied, “to suit the customers’ wrist size”. Still not able to understand what he meant by this statement as for me we select the bangles as per the size that fits our wrist and not vice versa. What he was doing made no sense to me. You select the colour and the design of the bangle and he would make it fit your wrist. Amazing. I found it disgusting as well. I just thought of people who bring about changes in others to suit their requirement instead of choosing the one that suits them the best. How inhuman indeed!
Little did I know that the bangle seller would be teaching me so many lessons of life that nobody else could teach me. Mesmerized, we walked inside his shop which was just an enclosure of 5’ by 5’. Sitting cross legged on the floor of his shop, surrounded by myriad bangles of different colours and shapes, I reflected on the similarity between these and human life. How people first look for the best qualities that they would like to have in a person and then bring about changes where they want, but do they ever understand the difficulties that a person undergoes in bringing those changes. Perhaps I never would have understood it had I not seen the lac bangles being heated on slow fire and then put on a wooden roller to make them of the proper size. Such a torture to fit a wrist.
I bought a lot many bangles, though I rarely wear them but they looked so inviting that I just had to go for the buy. I bought many sets for my elder daughter. I asked my little one to select a few for her as well but she refused point blank. Bangles had no place in her wrist or life, she claimed. But I pestered her as she may not find another opportunity to make a selection from such wide variety. And was “selection” not a prerogative for each of us. Finally, she settled for a pair of white bracelets that had closely set white crystals set on them. It was a beauty. But as she has very delicate and slender wrists, they were a size too big for her. The bangle seller assured us that it was no problem as he would make it fit her wrists. So we sat in his shop and watched him do the job. He put one bracelet on slow heat to warm it a little and then with a swift swirl cut a piece out of it. I was shocked as I had not expected him to cut a piece and had just waited him to heat the bangle and then make it of the requisite size. I felt cheated as if I had been responsible for cutting a very vital part of the bracelet from it and had done the unpardonable act. I wanted to know why he had done such cruel act of cutting. Smiling back at my question, he said, “don’t you see that the crystals are set so closely on this pair and even if I heated it, how would they be fitted on a bracelet of a smaller size?” And further added, “It had to be cut, there was no other solution at all.”
Is it not what life is all about as well? One makes adjustments even at the cost of personal humiliations and pains to suit the demands but sometimes a portion has to be cut off and cast away to make it fit LIFE? Such a great lesson came to us in the desert land from a bangle seller who had never been to a school, had not read the Alchemist, the Fountainhead etc., but had lifetime of experience giving him the substance. It was indeed a revelation for us in the desert that colours and crystals helped us to unscramble. Life is to move forward and to do away with a part that makes your moving ahead a hindrance. One must make adjustments but not beyond a point and then the only way out is to cut the piece apart.