The Person who influenced your life the most
In this journey of life, one comes across all sorts of men, women and children of varying age. Some of them influence him, while he also influences the others. During this course of give and take I was deeply influenced by a girl friend. Her sterling qualities of courage, simplicity, patriotism and love of aesthetic sense influenced me immensely. Such people come into your life like meteor and after casting a long shadow on you, they disappear.
My friend left on me such a great influence which almost recast my life after her own pattern. She was a young girl, younger in age, yet her quality of courage was far beyond mine. She gave evidence of this several times. Once, she even risked her honour for its sake. It so happened that I was working during those days as an active member of a political party and wanted a shelter for a night. It was the month of June and she was at her home enjoying holidays, with the rest of the members of her family, I fixed up with her and a thing which seemed to be an impossibility was readily accepted by her. I admired her courage and extraordinary power of risk-taking. At one time I thought I should not thus endanger her life but then, inspite of my unwillingness, I had to decide otherwise. A date was fixed with her and I went there and stayed in a Hotel. The girl was to harbour me after action and my presence was to be kept very secret from the rest of the members of her family. She did it so nicely and intelligently that I simply marvelled at her planning. The courage which she showed was extra-ordinary and it was only a slight unconscious mistake on my part that her position was slightly falsified. The way in which she acquitted herself even under such adverse circumstances, still more influenced me and I still more adhered to the dictum which she often laid down before me—take life as it comes and live it to the full. She used to say that it was a quotation from some writer known by the name of Ishaktus-Victor. Whatsoever be it, her practical aspect of the dictum and the boldness with which she faced all the trials of her life drew her still more to me. Her life influenced me to such an extent that I also often practised those principles of life which I thought correct. Even now, when I remember her courage, I feel she was an incarnation of ‘Shakti’.
Her simplicity and child-like innocence was yet another quality which left a deep impression on me. Inspite of her high status and highly cultured and educated family she lived very simple. Her living was simple. She had implicit faith in ‘Ishwar’ and never did anything which was against anybody’s interest. I also moulded my life after her and adopted myself to plain living. It was then, that I started wearing Khadder and tried to mould myself to the Gandhian philosophy of living. I had found her ever willing to help any needy man or woman and she did not carry with her any prejudices. She must help be-cause her help was going to benefit someone else. Such a self-less spirit of sacrifice was ever present in her. She was ever ready to obey her teachers and accept their advice in matters of studies and school education, but did not blindly follow anything. In matters of preservation of rights of the student community, she was always in the front. Such an admixture of love with discipline and duty was seldom seen. Not only I but several others, admired her and drew inspiration from her plain-living and high thinking which did not remain only a precept with her ; she practised it to her utmost. I also derived some of my inspiration from her habits and was equally influenced by her actions which led me to open a new chapter in my life. I vowed to live a simple life and tried to help my people to the utmost. Whatever good qualities exist in me, in this direction, have been a direct result of my friend’s personal conduct.
Her patriotism was also unsurpassed. She was patriotic and national to the core. Her creed was Gandhian and she always believed in plain thought and straight action. She kept no secrets and could do anything to protect and heighten the honour of her country. One could see her taking a leading part on the eve of all the national functions—the Republic Day, Gandhi Jayanti, the Independence Day and such others. She loved Gandhiji and his ideals and tried to live up to them. Her life was more an example than a precept. Often she spoke on such occasions and I thought she might one day become the leader of the country and decide the destiny of her people. We never found her doing anything that might jeopardise the honour of her country. Her qualities of leadership were quite outstanding. She talked little and worked more. Her personal interest was even swamped by the interest of the majority of the country and I saw her even rendering help to her col-leagues at the cost of her own benefit. Every one who met her was deeply influenced. I had not met so far anybody of such patriotic feelings.
Over and above all this, she was an excellent musician and an artist. The fine blending of music and painting was brought into perfection in her. On the eve of national or religious functions, she was called upon by her colleagues to give a demonstration of her musical talent. She played so well at Tabla’ that the audience was magic-stricken and when it ended there was a loud applause. Her drawing and painting was also spotless. I had seen some of her paintings and was much impressed. Her rendering of Shabri picking up mulberries ‘for the offering to her Lord was beautiful and was immensely appreciated by the teacher. She was also very good at pencil sketches and scenery. I was inspired by her talents and I also accepted drawing and painting as one of my hobbies. Music could not stir me since I was too tough for such a delicate art. My paintings of ‘Bodhishatva Avloketeshwar and Maha Maya” were only an expression of the great influence which she exercised on me. I was reminded of the great Hindi poetess Mahadevi Verma in whom providence has made an exquisite blending of Poetry and Art. She wrote and sketched and the beautiful paintings which come before us would have been impossible had she not possessed the art of drawing and painting in herself. I feelvery happy when I give myself up to a work of drawing or painting, for during that period I am detached from the worries and turmoil of daily life and enter into a domain of peace and joy. For this, I am indebted only to my girl friend whose influence inspired in me a love to cultivate such a useful hobby, which helps and delights me even how. There are many great men in this country and abroad whose dynamic influence has changed the course of events of the world since time immemorial. The religious, social and political reformers, saints and philosophers have influenced the common man and inspired him to remodel his life on their precepts. In our own country dynamic personalities like Mahrishi Dayanand, Lokmanya Tilak, Mahrishi Rabindranath Tagore and last of all the Father of the Nation, the great Gandhi, have influenced the people of the whole world and set nations on righteous lines and redeemed humanity of the centuries’ old wrongs. We read about them in their own works and also of others. But the persons who come in touch with us during this journey of life sometimes cast more stable influence on our lives. We read them more closely and are subconsciously influenced into action by their contact. The all-round influence which this young girl cast on me was so immense and deep-rooted that even to day her recollection encourages me to better deeds and actions.