“You should meet him. He has some bright ideas,” my friend insisted that I meet Koushik.
We met at the Amethyst Cafe on a cool Saturday afternoon, many days before the rain god started misbehaving.
“I work for Intel in California and I am here in Chennai on a sabbatical.”
I had already made up my mind. Another starry eyed young geek who things his app is the next Facebook. I was hungry and shifted my attention to check if my favourite ‘Fusili Pesto’ was still on the menu. It is made with authentic pesto sauce along with baby potatoes and pine nuts. Slurp!
“My elder brother suffers from mental illness. He is positive about treatment but finds it difficult to stay in jobs. The employers have been patient and accommodative but he finds it difficult to work in groups. And every time he leaves a job, his confidence levels really come down and then it takes a while for him get back on track,” he said.
Alright this is serious.
“My parents and I were troubled by this. So I thought I should do something which would allow him to work from home. I found some basic design jobs from my friends which my brother could work on. I taught him basics of photoshop and he picked it up quickly.”
“But the breakthrough came when I asked my brother to teach photoshop to a friend. After the session his confidence levels really sky rocketed. He feels fabulous when he teaches,” Kaushik said with a sparkle in his eyes.
“So I have an idea to develop a software platform that would help persons with mental illness to learn basic computer applications like office, internet, photo editing and also enabled them to teach others. That way we can really help persons with mental illness become self-confident,” he sounded victorious.
I hated myself for judging him.
His compassion and empathy towards his brother and others with mental illness really touched me. He must be in his late twenties. He was away from home. He lived far away from his brother and could have easily washed his hands off and went about his career and relationships. In a world filled with selfish and self-centred people here was a young man who cared so deeply about a brother who needed help.
I gifted “Becoming a mountain” by Stephen Alter to him. The book is about the author’s personal experience who underwent a deadly assault on him and his wife and how he later went about finding meaning to his life through his treks across the Himalayas. Stephen Alter gives a moving meditation on the solace of high places, and on the hidden meanings and enduring mystery of mountains.
The author quotes Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb the Everest,
“It’s not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves.”
God bless you Koushik. May your tribe rise.