Tears fell down his cheeks and on to his pillow. As he tried to get some sleep, he could not get his thoughts away from it. His thoughts went back to how it had started & how innocuous it had seemed at the outset. He realized his whole life was slowly ebbing away L . More than 10 years had passed by since the first mistake and he seemed to be sucked into this vicious circle with no end in sight. Oh how he desperately wanted to get rid of the habit!

The next day as he got up, he swore to himself, that he would not touch it today. As he started getting ready to work, he realized that today was the R & R (rewards and recognition) awards ceremony. He had been nominated for and awarded the MVP (Most valuable Award). He was excited at being recognized for his contribution and was looking forward to the praise and glory that would come his way as he would walk the aisle to get the award. He smiled to himself as he combed his hair. He selected his favorite blue shirt and black pant and made sure he was neatly dressed. He left home with the lunch box his mum gave him and walked towards his bus stop. He boarded the bus (5 minutes early) and slowly the desire to have a puff started building up. “Noooo” he told himself, I won’t do it, I will not give in again – he said. He bit his lip and tried to think about his work and his award, but no, the thought would not leave him. The battle in his soul was unbearable.

Raju had everything going for him. A loving son to his parents, an epitome of dedication at work and he had a kind heart to help anything / anyone who needed help. But deep down, he really felt he was a hypocrite. “Is all this just a farce? A mask for the people? Do I make all the right moves and noises in public to appear good?” – He would ask himself. He thought about how he had felt jealous when his friend got a promotion, his bitter anger at the escalation done by his onsite counter-part. And to top it all, his secret habit of smoking. What good does it do to appear right in front of everyone, but not be at peace with yourself? He knew his parents would be shocked to find out, but how long could he hide it? Is it possible to get rid of the habit?

If it was something external, he could change it, but how could he change something that had become a part of him? He smiled ironically as he thought of the award he was receiving that day, as it was for bringing in marked improvement in his team’s performance. If only life could be as simple as our project… To change his very inner nature would require something far greater than will-power to change…but was there a solution?

As he was thinking, Samuel came and sat next to him in the bus. Raju had always trusted Samuel and knew that he had something special about him (what it was he was not sure). He had wanted to share with him his problems earlier, but his pride stopped him on most occasions. Today, with a heavy heart, he felt he needed to let go and he thought of talking to Samuel. His blood pressure increased and sweat formed on his brow. How could he tell him? But he badly wanted to have this burden take off his chest.

Mustering all his courage, he told Samuel about his problem. He fought back tears as he told him about his struggles. Samuel listened quietly and understandingly to everything Raju had to say. Finally Samuel told Raju about his best friend. Samuel told him that he was a wonder-working person who could cure any of the heart’s diseases. He told him that all he would need to do is to meet his best friend and tell him his problems and just trust him to heal his heart. Samuel told him that he could talk to his best friend from anywhere at any time. Raju found it hard to believe and wondered how it would work? But he had tried everything possible to get rid of it – but nothing had worked, he thought he had nothing to lose.

When Raju spoke to Samuel’s best friend for the first time, he had thousand questions running through his mind, could this really be true? What would he say? He said “Dear God, I am sorry for failing you & messing up my life, I need your help to get me right and corrected. I need a change”. As he said this, he did not hear any reply back, but he felt a strange peace fill his heart as he talked to him. He felt light, like the time when he was a small kid with no worries. He knew something had changed on the inside & it was hard to explain.

A week went by and he did not have the urge to go for a smoke. Could this be really true he asked himself? A month went by & Raju frequently talked to  God, who was no longer just Samuel’s best friend, but his best friend as well. He thanked God for helping him get out of a place where he never thought he could get out. Who would think that God could be friends with a person who is a failure? When Raju smiled at someone, it was now really a smile with love and care. When he spoke his words were true and from his heart! Oh the delight of having a clear conscience!

This was definitely the tide of change that Raju had hoped for!