you can still see them in some of the villages down south. they might not be noticed, but they’re there and i’ve seen them. they’re located by the roadside here and there, typically like a culvert, made of 3 slabs of granite. two are planted vertically on the ground to support the third horizontal slab that would usually reach up to shoulder level. as a little boy, i’ve wondered why they made culverts so tall. only later did i realise that they weren’t culverts at all, but what is known as a ‘sumai tangi’. it is tamil, and quite literally translated, would mean something like a ‘weight bearer’. these are apparently made for the weary traveller, to off load his or her wares, which are usually carried on the head. isn’t that a simple and beautiful concept?
i’ve had the privilege of knowing human beings who can be compared to the sumai tangi. they’re the sort of people who would be most easily approachable when we need to relieve ourselves of some of our inner burdens. they’re ever ready to lend a ear, and they always come up with kind, supportive words. and funny thing is, one almost never sees them being troubled by this thing or that. or probably they do get troubled, but don’t bother others with it. sometimes i think God minimises their troubles because they so easily accept and carry other people’s burdens.
i had one of those heavy days yesterday, when i felt unduly afflicted with this heart wrenching pain. there wasn’t any reason in particular. it so happened that i had to speak to quite a few friends and relatives on the same day. and i noticed that they were all, in some of or the other, quite deeply sad. in fact, i’d even think they spend much of their lives drowned in sadness. which in my opinion, is quite unnecessary. but, i also believe in the inevitability of things, and so i felt quite helpless when it came to these people i loved, to see them so sad.
i thank God, for being with me every moment, for helping me sail through such tough times. to me, He comes in the form of friends, family and that rare breed of sumai tangis. and in the form of silence. i think God is in the silence. and i am grateful for it.
‘the beauty of life does not depend on how happy you are, but on how happy others can be because of you.’