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 a minute or two. He invariably comes on his cycle when the sun is over the head and 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 my wife and asked for her.
I told him in abrasive tone”she has gone out. You may deliver it to me.”
Possibly upset with my harsh tone he replied “I would need an authorization letter as per rules.”
“You are very punctilious especially when you know the addressee is my wife” I remonstrated with him.
He politely replied” I was only doing my duty. Since I know both of you, I would have readily delivered it to you had you been a little gentle”
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 me into the drawing room and offered me a glass of cold water let alone buttermilk.”
“Do you like this arduous work of going out daily in hot sun or in rains on rainy days?”
“I have no choice as I need to earn and so I decided to like it. Sorting of the letters was easy once one gets experienced. I have the opportunity to meet all sorts of people though the hazard of unchained dogs and tiresome climbing of the stairs of multi storied apartments poses me a problem.You see I am getting older”he said with a smile.”
“I understand fully” I said in empathy
“It is not without its joy. I enjoy helping the illiterate with the occasional reading out the post cards. Though there are a few insensitive people making me wait at their doors taking their own time to chain the dogs or open the doors, most of the people are good and happy to see me at their doors.. I have no reason to be unhappy though walking through slushy roads during rainy days is difficult.”
Six months later, I had to get an affidavit urgently from a notary public. 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. It was then I found that he knew well 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 or pick up facility 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 remarked “I am surprised how you like your work which to me does not appear comfortable.”
He laughed and said “Unlike you big officers, I am not chained to a table or a cabin all through the day. I am mostly in the open breathing fresh air and meeting a cross section of people. Most of them cheer up and smile when they see me bringing a letter or a money order.. At the end of the day I do not have to carry the worries of the office to my home. I have many friends and interests. Life is not about earning money alone. I am quite happy,Sir.”
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? We are as happy as we wish to be.