246. He is there.

A week ago, I was returning home from a program in the city. It was already 9pm and I was tired. The tram took a while to reach with all the late night crowds and road works. I took a seat in the middle by the window. As the tram noisily moved forward, I began to recollect the lecture I had just attended while observing the public life outside. How fortunate are we, I thought.

Every now and then, the tram would stop to let passengers in and out. Late night white collar workers, overseas students, tourists, singles, clowns – all kinds of people come in and go out. In one such stop, I noticed a young man jump in a hurry.

He didn’t gaze much for the right seat, taking the empty ones by the door. He threw his large shoulder bag on to the ground and with great force sat down. He sat in a lazy way and looked out the window. He seemed angry and perhaps fed up. I looked away sighing on his aggressive body language. I thought – all these young “lucky” people, what problem could be so big in their life?

A minute later, out of curiosity, I focused my attention on him again. This time, I saw him searching for something in his unusually large bag. He pulled a full beer bottle. His other hand went back in and this time pulled out a bottle opener. In the unsteady tram,he struggled a bit to get it opened. Few sips and deep thought later, he stretched his legs to get something from his soiled jeans. It was a cigarette lighter. I was thinking – here is a handsome young boy in Australia, the lucky country – and he looks angry, dirty, tired and getting drunk with few ciggies coming up. I looked away. Just then, he again reached to get something else from his bag. I looked back.

He pulled out a small worn-out booklet, with a purple cover. I could easily make out the heading – “Beyond Birth & Death”. I was shocked. And on the other side of the cover was the photo of the author – an aristocratic looking gentleman with a shawl draped around him. He gazed upwards and looked grave. Over the next 15 minutes till we reached the final destination, the boy with beer and lighter in one hand began to read that book with great attention. He began to look different now.

I sat there silently watching the whole time. Unbelievable I thought. No matter how cold or hot it is outside, morning or night, young or old, drunk or sober – our dear Prabhupad is there with the knowledge to get any kind of people out of their misery. He is always there.

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