Chapter 1: The Man Who Followed His Heart
There was once a Punjabi fellow who followed his heart. At the age of 19, his heart told him to go to the army… and so he did. In the army, he assumed the post of a religious preacher, communicating the learnings of Sikhism to a motley crew of Indian soldiers. These men gifted the preacher their attention, deriving direction from his sermons. The words that flowed from the preacher’s lips inspired and awed, grasped and clawed, until the men turned to children whose faces danced according to the cadence of the preacher’s voice. He was loved and hated, respected and feared, he was… just a man. And one day, when that man looked in the mirror, he did not recognize himself. His hips had grown wider and his cheeks had grown chubbier. Despite the change in his appearance, his heart had continued beating at the same pace. And so, he knew, when his heart told him to pack up his uniform and leave his army position behind, to follow.
The preacher returned home no longer a preacher and, with two bullocks to his name, he set out to cultivate his land. Every day, he would wake up at 1 AM. In the calm of the night, he slipped into his finest white kurta and then slipped out the door. Can you imagine complete silence? No crickets, no birds, no mental chatter; just a man and his earth. On the road to the farm, the silhouette walked with ease. His left hand possessed a container of homemade seviyan, and his right hand gently clutched at a cup of chaay. When he arrived at the farm, the preacher slurped his seviyan and sipped his tea, soaking in the weight of each sensation. Following his meal, he took off his kurta, folded it neatly at his side, and stepped into his tethered khakis. Without a trace of hesitation, he sunk his bare feet into the soil and labored until the sun peeked above the horizon. Beads of sweat turned to streams when he dropped his sickle in the dirt and headed for the faucet. Each morning, he was reborn as the cold water washed away his sweat. With the rising sun illuminating the thin smile that traced across the bottom half of his face, he walked home draped in the same white kurta that had escorted him to the farm in the black of night. He entered his home with a warm heart and embraced his wife. Before going back to the fields, he sat down with his family to enjoy a thick glass of buttermilk seasoned by two sugar cubes. Then he left to tend his land. At 5 PM, he returned to his home once again to practice meditation. Sitting down in a cross-legged position, his back perpendicular to the ground, he took one breath in and surrendered to the flow of experience. After marinating his tongue in turmeric-spiced dal, he sat around the radio and absorbed the melodies of a Sikh religious service. Matching his tone with the harmonium’s prolonged notes, the farmer fell back in time and found the preacher’s state of mind.
He continued this routine every day for sixty-seven years. He saw the cycles of seasons and the cycles of life. When his time came to return to the earth, he found that he had already returned. And so, lived the man that followed his heart.
Citations: Anonymous. Farmer. Personal Interview. Sher Pur Kalan, Punjab. 21 April 2019.