This was a speech I delivered in International Speech Contest. Though I did not win the contest this speech is easily one of my favorites, because of the honesty I dared to put across.
Do we all like finding examples from our lives to justify ourselves at times? I do! Greetings contest chair, fellow Toastmasters and Guests, as I stand before you today, with turmoil in my heart, tension in my muscles and thoughts in my mind, all I wish to do is to tell you those examples and stories, to relax, quench and absorb – to justify myself.
First one is of a child, about 8 and a man, his father, a civil engineer, who used to make huge intimidating blue prints, with different pencils. The child loved watching him draw. But on one particular day, the child was more fascinated by the pencil his father held in his hand; a mechanical pencil. He was seeing it for the first time in his life. It intrigued him. When the man left for dinner, the child quietly sneaked the pencil from the table and put it in his cupboard. Tiptoeing, he went to his room, slipped in his comfortable warm quilt, yet sweating. He was afraid, trying to listen to every bit of the conversation happening over the dinner table, to pick the word pencil. It was a torture. Only when he heard the man say, ‘Am off to bed!’ could he sleep too. But, he woke up with a start; heard his father shouting about the pencil, the mother trying to calm him down. Poor child could take it no more. He went to his cupboard, took out the lovely steel-blue beauty and walked with the tiniest of steps possible towards his father. With tears in his eyes he held out his hand, and the next moment his father’s hand connected, with full force, to his cheek. I wonder, was stealing the pencil a bigger issue or getting slapped after returning it?
Second one is about a girl, about 13, embracing the beautiful time of growing up. Once, she went for a camping trip from school with friends. At the end of a very tiring day, cold breeze was soothing the ache aimless wander had thrust upon them. They were lying down on hard ground and she was asleep in a couple of minutes. A little later, a touch at the places she did not appreciate woke her up. She shuddered first; then took the nearest stone and hit the person with all the strength she could muster. No one had known of the initial disturbance and the later couldn’t have been unnoticed. Shy of accepting the truth, she was punished for injuring a fellow human being, later known to be slower in his mental growth than the physical. I wonder again, who was at fault; the guy, unaware of his actions; the girl, retorting or the people who punished her?
Third story is about a man in his eighties; at his death-bed. His family around him, sad at the prospect of losing him, yet content that he would be at peace at last. But back in their bedrooms, the son was afraid, where would they live once his father was no more. His mother, who didn’t like her daughter in law, was planning to transfer the property to her daughters. He had not been able to buy himself a house with a regular man’s income. The grief at his father’s ill health was shared by the realization of not having a shelter. All because he did not own any property! This time, I ponder if not acquiring wealth for self, a right decision as preached by many or it has a different meaning that I am unable to fathom.
The protagonists of my fourth and final story were about 80 at the time Nicholas Sparks, the author of notebook wove it; a man and a woman, deeply in love, so much so that they thought themselves incomplete without each other. But as luck would have it, the woman suffered from Alzheimer’s’ disease. She could not remember the love of her life; her children and her own name. The man could not tell her all of it as it aggravated her condition. So he lied to her every day, about her, about himself, about the life they had spent, just to have that fleeting moment when she would look at him, with the love that had been their strength to live up to 80, to be with her when they journeyed together to heaven.
And with that, finally my stories come to an end. But why did I tell 4 unrelated stories? Friends, I have been called a non believer, confused, agnostic, I told you these stories to help me understand the gap we have in the teachings bestowed upon us and the interpretation as we take. The major faiths teach us – Asteya – not to steal, Ahimsa – not to injure any living being, Tyag – not to own property, Satya – to speak truth, and Brahmacharya – to lead a virtuous life.
But the lessons that I gather from the stories are – do not steal, or if you do, do not admit. Is Asteya a real virtue then? Retort back, if the scenario demands, Is Ahimsa the correct path then? Gather, for a secure future, else worry for it when you are faced with more grave situations in life later, Isn’t Tyag, more of a burden then? Lie, if those false statements help someone live peacefully without losing sanity, does it deserve a punishment then?
I am at a stage in my life where my understanding is meager, my thoughts are many and my propensity to question insane, all that I said now, makes me wonder, which link am I missing?
I do not claim to know all, & I do not want to hide, I am yet to decide!
I am not being partial; I am not taking any side, I am yet to decide!