The Importance of Trifles:
Trifles, light as air, sometimes produce results as big as Colossus. Daily we waste minutes and hours as things of no importance, yet these trifles make up the whole life. If we waste a few minutes a day, they total up to years after many years. A person who spends a few naya-paisas on Cigarettes daily finds at the end that he has smoked away thousands of rupees, which huge amount could have been put to some better use.
A smoker passes along and carelessly throws away the lighted cigarette end. It is a trifle. Yet this little spark thrown near a petrol pump causes a big blaze and causes huge losses. We know how such a trifle caused the Great Fire of London in 1616, which burnt almost one-third of London. The Taj Mahal is the greatest thing of beauty, the eighth wonder of the world. Yet it was built in response to a chance dying wish of the Queen Mumtaz Mahal and that wish was no greater than a trifle.
History records how trifles, which went unnoticed at the time, made or marred the destiny of nations and of men. Hitler, the hero of Germany and the starter of World War II, was the greatest Jew-hater and Jew-baiter. Under his dictatorship, Jews were hounded out of Germany. Even that great Jew, Einstein, who is called the Father of the Atomic Age, had to quit Germany and settle in America. And Hitler’s fierce hatred of the Jews has been traced to a trifle at school, Hitler was beaten by a bully, who was a Jew. Yet this trifle changed the history of the world Jewry.
Similarly, it was a trifle that made Kalidasa the greatest Sanskrit poet. Tradition tells us how by fluke he married a very learned woman and how her one sentence of reproach urged him to study and strive and become the topmost poet of India. The Hindi poet Tulsidas was madly in love with his wife. Once when his wife had gone to her parent’s house, unasked he went after her, crossing a stormy river on a corpse and climbing up to his beloved’s window by clutching a big serpent, only to be told, “If you worshipped God with half the zeal with which you adore my white body, you would have found salvation”. This was a trifle that proved a turning point in his life. No more for him the path of love and lust; he bade farewell to his wife and to family life; he became the devotee of God and the world-famous author of Hindi Ramayana.
Rajput history tells us how a single word or little act led to bloody feuds that brought to death and destruction of many clans. The Battle of Waterloo was lost by Napoleon, because, according to some, Napoleon had a headache that day. And Waterloo was a turning point in the history of Europe. The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playgrounds of Eton, says the proverb. Yes, the training that the boys had received at the Eton school was regarded as an important factor at the time.
A boy goes to take the I.A.S. examination. He is sure of success, but on a fateful day he falls ill, or his cycle is punctured and he is too late for the examination. Once such trifle seals his fate for the whole life. By the date of the next examination, he is over-aged.
As Shakespeare says,
“There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune”.
A passenger alighted from an aeroplane at the Mumbai airport. He brought with him something invisible, microscopic, namely a germ of flu. This hidden enemy was less than a trifle, Yet it resulted in the outbreak of the flu epidemic of 1957 which swept across countries and continents, taking a heavy toll on life.
Such are life’s little ironies. A man bought a lottery ticket almost in a fit of absent-mindedness. Yet he drew the first prize and stepped from poverty to wealth. Newton was beaten by a bully at school; he had been a mediocre student before, but to outshine that bully, he put in the best effort and ended up being England’s greatest scientist. Does not one trifling incident or careless word break life-long friendships and turn friends into blood-thirsty enemies?
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