Tuesday, March 4, 2008

We are as happy as we wish to be

by KParthasarathi Tuesday, March 04, 2008
I do not know how many of us know the name of our postman who comes to deliver our letters almost daily? No, we hardly talk to him even when he delivers us a registered letter or a parcel. We silently receive the mail and sign in acknowledgement in the form he produces. Our encounter or should I say non-encounter with him is over in the matter of a minute or two. He invariably comes in his cycle when the sun is over the head and it is hot. He would visit any number of homes and would not have remembered a single exchange of words worth remembering at the end of the day.
My first encounter with my postman started with a tiff. It was very hot that day and after a heavy lunch, I had dozed off. My wife was away. The postman had rung the bell twice or thrice. I opened the door with a frown on my face at the disturbance. He had a registered parcel for Mrs. Partha. I told him she was not at home and asked him to give me her husband the packet. He said he would come the next day to deliver personally to her. When I remonstrated at his being punctilious,he politely replied that he was only doing his duty.
It was only then that I noticed he was perspiring heavily standing in the hot sun with a big bundle. I requested him to come in and asked him to sit under the fan. He was hesitant initially but sat down when pressed. I gave him a glass of cold butter milk. I ascertained his name was Radhakrishnan and that he has been on this beat for the last twenty years. He had two sons and one girl and all of them studying. He was touched by my kind enquiries and said this was the first time anyone ever invited him into the drawing room and offered him a drink. I asked him whether he liked the work. He said he had no choice but he decided to like it. Sorting of the letters was easy once one gets experienced. He had the opportunity to meet all sorts of people though the hazard of unchained dogs and tiresome climbing of the stairs of multi storied apartments posed a problem. He however enjoyed the occasional reading out the post cards to the illiterate in the slums. Though there were a few insensitive people making him wait at their doors taking their time to chain the dogs or open the doors most of his clients were by and large good. He said he had no reason to be unhappy though walking through slushy roads during rainy days was difficult.
Six months later, I had to get an affidavit urgently from a notary. I didn’t know of anyone in the locality. The neighbours also could not help. It was then I saw Radhakrishnan in my colony on his beat. When I mentioned about this, he reeled out half a dozen names within a kilometer of my house. I found that he knew the people who lived in his area and enjoyed being helpful whenever approached. It was then the thought occurred to me that how many of us who work in the cool comfort of air-conditioned offices with transport pick up and yet keep griping about the well paid work little realizing there are people who enjoy their work even in unfavourable circumstances.
I was surprised at Radhakrishnan’s positive attitude and asked him how he liked his work which to me did not appear comfortable. He laughed and said “Unlike others I am not chained to a table all through the day. I am mostly in open breathing fresh air and meeting a cross section of people. Most of them cheer up and smile when they get a letter. At the end of the day I do not have to carry the worries of the office to my home. I have many friends. Life is not about earning money alone. I am quite happy.” I realized that the postman had developed a robust and positive outlook towards life. He liked his job, worked efficiently, helped illiterate people, made friends and was cheerful. How many of us could boast of such a privilege?


  1. Very nice article. It is indeed a marvel to gain insight into the world of those who are familiar at the same time a stranger like the postman. Its nice to see someone like that enjoy their job to the fullest and see the glass half full instead of half empty when he can find many a reason to crib. Especially with so much of running around in the blazing heat of the scorching sun/in the heavy downpour of the rain rampage. Met with impolite and unwarranted remarks,managing the stress of delivering important documents in time...they indeed carry a baggage of responsibility along with their baggage of other people's requirements/emotions,etc. While there are others in jobs confined to air conditioned and technologically advanced office rooms,they tend to portray a harassed look on their faces quite contrast to the cheerful look on the postman's who travels from pillar to post on his bicycle. A lot can be learnt and drawn inspirations from interacting with such people.

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