This is not the first time that I have come across this image. It is poignant for all the right reasons and resonates with me for many reasons, the least being it reminding me of the famous Helen Keller quote – “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet”.
The Keller quote however, reminded me of two of the great lessons of life that I had the privilege of learning from a great mentor.
The year was 1981. The event, the annual Cricket Match between the Sales Managers and the Rest played every year at our Mill location in the South of India. This was one major event looked forward to by all every year and it was always a festive affair. The match would be over before lunch time in the morning and it would be followed by a great deal of beer drinking and a sumptuous meal in fellowship.
I used to represent the Sales Managers and would open the bowling for them. I was also a dependable batsman down the order. I did this every year from 1974 till 1980. In 1981 however I could not play due to my hips having given up on me. I was miserable watching the proceedings and my misery was perhaps quite obvious as my then boss, sitting next to me in the pavilion, who asked me why I was so sad. On hearing my disappointment with my hips not cooperating, he quoted Helen Keller.
That was the last time that I ever complained about my disability or compared myself with anyone else.
My boss continued to be my boss till 1987 when I took over from him on his retirement. He continues to be a very dear friend till today and though with his own disabilities, he laughs when I remind him of his mentoring me during the cricket match.