Of Parables and Eyes

What is a parable? It is a simple story containing a moral or a spiritual lesson.

Well, the last few days have culminated in a parable for me. With an unending spate of visitors, the stress of work, the background of friendships going awry, I have been stretched beyond limits. Trying to find a bit of calm in this storm has proven elusive at times, and downright impossible at others.

Parables are associated with the Bible, and rightly so. Yet the Hindu holy book, the Bhagvad Gita has its own set of lessons to impart. One that has stayed with me through the years is the one involving Dronacharya, the royal guru to the warring cousins the Kauravas and the Pandavas. In one particular archery lesson, he hung a wooden bird on a tree branch and asked his students to take aim. Before firing their arrows he asked each one to describe what he saw. One by one they described the forest, the trees, the landscape, the wooden bird. Then the mighty guru asked Arjuna, his favourite student, what he saw. Arjuna merely said, “Guruji, all I see is the eye of the bird”. He went on to become one of History’s greatest archers.

My daughter’s eye operation was scheduled to be at 7:30 am on Thursday. I was meant to arrive from work the night before. Worry had coiled itself into a knot in my stomach. I was apprehensive about the general anaesthesia, and concerned about the operation itself, which involved removing a bit of skin off the conjunctiva and a few stitches. Nothing major, the surgeon had reassured us. Yet, it was her eye! The misgivings would not be quelled.

As bad luck would have it, my flight cancelled, and I was stranded nearly 4000 miles away, with no recourse, except to get home 24 hours later than anticipated.

Helplessness and frustration joined worry and I was a ball of nervous tension by the time I landed. I had missed the operation. I had missed the chance to hold my daughter’s hand as she was put under. I had missed the chance of being there when she came around. I felt like a failure even though none of it was of my doing.

I sped home, desperate to see my little girl. Through it all, the fatigue, the annoyances, the snubs of some and the ingratitude of others danced around demonically in my half crazed mind.

I parked the car, said a quick hello to the neighbours and rushed inside.

She was curled up on her side, her mouth slack in sleep. An eye patch covered her left eye. Suddenly, all that background noise quietened to a hum. I was there. She was well. The operation had been a success. I cradled her in my arms, and kissed her gently. My parable unfolded itself. All that was of true value was right here, in my little home. My husband, my children, their welfare. This was my ‘eye’. My focus.

Nothing else mattered.


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