Tuesday, January 2, 2007

It is faith that keeps us all going

One morning, a college student, on reaching the library, didn't know where to leave her bag since the entire rack was full. On the security guard's suggestion, she left it on the counter, like many others. When she returned an hour later, her bag wasn't there.

Mercifully the mobile wasn't inside, only Rs 350 and many bits of paper, with random jottings. This was the first such incident. The system ran on faith; until one person shattered it.

The next day, I was at a temple in Banaswadi, in Bangalore. There was a designated place to leave footwear, but not helmets, which are now compulsory. I was wary of leaving it unattended. So, I carried it into the temple.

A security guard, with a disarming smile, stretched out his hands, and offered to keep the helmet safely. His body language infused a lot of faith in me. I involuntarily handed it over to him, but he didn't give me a receipt.

Just as I was about to enter the temple's inner premises, the previous day's incident of a girl losing her bag came to my mind. What if I would be the first one to lose something in the temple, and that too my helmet?

No, I won't take a chance. I turned around, tore off a piece of paper from the pocket notepad I carry; splitting it into two pieces, I wrote my name on both. I showed the security guard the tags I had just created. He looked amazed. He obviously wasn't getting a hang of what I was up to.

"Just to make sure that no one else by mistake picks up my helmet", I explained as I tucked one tag under the visor of the helmet and put the other tag into my pocket.

"There's no need for all this...", he said. The warmth of the smile — that he sported a couple of minutes back when he offered to keep my helmet safely — was missing.

God, did I indicate that I didn't have faith in him? Am I distrusting someone who is genuinely helpful? Within seconds, did I convert a trustworthy person into a suspicious one? How would I have felt if the world didn't have trust in me?

No. I got to be realistic. I drew on my resources of body language and I told him gently in the friendliest tone, "Just in case; lot of helmets here..." He had a reassuring smile.

Yet, I couldn't still help asking myself: What if I still lost my helmet? What if the guard would have only shrugged his shoulders and said, "I told you there's no use keeping all these tags". I left those thoughts aside as I moved into the temple.

When I brought my palms together in prayer, I realised there were more pressing things in life than a helmet — with or without a tag.

When I came back, the helmet was there, but not that security guard. As I picked it up and began walking away, I saw him. With the same disarming smile, he raised his open palms upwards, indicating all was well, not just the helmet, by the Grace of God.

Life is about relationships — matrimonial, parental, sibling, fraternal, friendly and even the one with strangers. It's faith that sustains a relationship, it fuels our daily lives.

Faith need not be spiritual. William Adam, the British businessman navigator, said, "Faith is a continuation of reason". Henry Bailey, a British author of medical detective short stories, said, "Faith is a higher faculty than reason". St Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, said, "Faith is to believe in what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe".

It's the faith that we have in one another that makes our lives comfortable.

(Published in Speaking Tree column, today's Times of India)


  1. Happy New Year! :)

  2. Well "Faith is to believe in what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe" . Was just connecting this with blogs and was comparing it with the personality that you can derive through the personal posts made by a blogger .

    P S:I saw this in Times of India in Delhi yesterday :) and was thinking it could be you . OOpz my hunch turned right :).

  3. Reminds me of a "Vasudevan sir quotation" - "Believe everyone till they give you a reason not to". I am not sure if in this day and age that is practical.

  4. Very well written. Fully agree. Many times we could be creating dishonesty. But if you lean too much on faith, you might be creating a possibility of mistrust...

    Happy new year to you. Sorry could not contact you since I cancelled my Bangalore trip

  5. dear pradeep,i could connect to your post on faith.recently i took a letter, actually a prereciept of provident fund of my relative who just passed away.i took it directly to the concerned desk in a huge office. as i requested the clerk to sign a reciept,he refused saying that in that case i would have to take it 9floors down to inward it at mail section.being a gov servant i knew how long will that inwarded letter take to wind its way up to the ninth floor and that was exactly what i wanted to avoid.i decided to raise the levels to speak to his officer.its from him i relearned 'faith'.he requested me to trust him,and that loss of documents could take place whether inwarded or not and just a reciept may become 'legal' but isnt a guarantee against loss.i had to agree to that fact albeit with some embarassment for having mistrusted his system.

    in my job we entrust one man to look out through a persicope and we pin our lives on the trust that he does that sincerely.

    in a low tech-every day context when we get in an autorickshaw,we give the responsibility of our safety to that man who has the handle bar.you wouldnt have seen him before you may not see him again.no reciepts no affidavits.we hop in and go.similar is the case of flights,trains and buses.faith happens here too where lives can be at stake in everyday events.

    does this mean absolute unconditional eternal faith?what do we do when our faith is breached.like when a letter is lost or some one dies due to an error in operations(surgical or otherwise).there is often a temporary lapse of faith.how long and how severe should be this loss of faith.or should we remain steadfast on this path of faith more than ever?. that i guess remains a dilemma to me.

    i have observed that faith redeems the loss to a great degree-provided every thing humanly possible has been done right.thats the trade off for faith.


  6. -- Kishore:
    Thank you. Wish you the same.

    -- Nariyal
    Well, I never thought this could be linked to blogs

    -- Payyans:
    Vasudevan Sir does come out with such beauties!

    -- Riyaz:
    Thanks for the greetings. Probably next time you come to Bangalore, we can meet up.

    -- Rajesh:
    Yes, faith plays such a huge role in our every day lives. We in fact take it so much for granted.

  7. I have a natural instinct to trust unless I have a strong reason not to - but my faith is more often shaken than sustained.
    Nice piece.