Her fingers were working magic on my scalp. But as she gently tried to massage and tease out the tension in my knotted nerves, I was oblivious to her efforts. My mind was busy fretting. It was getting late for dinner. There were dishes to be washed before my favourite Sunday programme began on television and the husband with his meticulous ways would allow no delays. He would end up doing it all himself and my guilt would not let me relax. The masseur’s fingers toiled on, futilely. All this after I had waited two weeks to book myself for a head massage and was spending a near fortune for this. Suddenly, a switch came on in my mind.
Why had I come here at all if I couldn’t set my life aside for a mere 30 minutes and enjoy the moment? Today, I had the means, the time and the ability to come in to a parlour and pay for a massage. Tomorrow, I might not have all this. And yet, I was frittering away the moments. Dinner could wait, television show could wait – I was going to enjoy this. And I did.
On my way home, I thought of all the moments that I had frittered away in my life, without realizing that the present is all we have. I’ve read dozens of quotations on this and none of them registered, as had the masseur’s fingers, which had tried so hard and succeeded in drumming the message home.
I thought of the costly holidays we had taken, without quite enjoying them because our thoughts all along had been on the jobs that awaited us on our return, or the worry that we had not turned out the gas, or locked the front door, or informed the domestic help. What if she quit because we had not kept her informed? I lost the best moments of our holidays. Now, we’re too busy, or too tired to take any more.
I thought of the times the daughter had called out to me to watch television with her. I had more often than not refused, saying I had an early start the next day and couldn’t go late to work. I could have. I could have sat up with her occasionally and still not lost my job. But anxiety for the future had spoiled the moment for me. Now that she’s all grown-up, call her if I may, she has better things to do. I had lost the moment.
I had lost the moment in a lovely, old souk in Morocco and a market in Mexico when I was fretting about whether I would make my connections back safely, or whether my baggage would be over the free allowance, though my return was two days away!
The beauty and the wondrous sights, the flavours, colours and fragrances of spices in the souk, the lovely cane products, the shoes, the bags, the gorgeous hand-woven rugs, the hand-embroidered linen being sold from the streets didn’t touch me quite as much as they should have. The romance of the antique markets of Mexico was lost on me. I have only photos that a friend took to remember them by. I had lost the moment.
The times that I went to see Dad and he asked me to stay back awhile, and I said that the daughter’s homework had to get done, dogs had to be fed or whatever reason I gave – I had lost the moment. He will never call me again because he is not in this world to do so.
Not anymore. The masseur’s fingers were almost like the shade of a Bodhi tree. They conveyed to me the importance of the moment. I shed my worries and gave in to the magic. And it worked wonders for my nerves.
As I write this, a song comes to mind – it’s in Hindi. Aane wala pal jaane wala hai. Ho sake to isme zindagi bitado – pal ye bhi jaane wala hai! I also salute Bollywood, and particularly Gulzar for giving us such gems.
Yes I will practice living every moment in life. At least I won’t have lost moments that will never come back!