My fascination with magic started when I was a small child. My parents took me to a circus show and unlike most children, the animals didn’t excite me. I remember being very upset at seeing them all chained, it made me sad. So I did what any other rational young kid would do, distracted myself with cotton candy! And there, next to the cotton candy store was a guy with a crystal ball. Okay, I admit it, more than him; the crystal ball got my attention! Right there, I was first introduced to magic. The magic trick was simple; he only pulled out a coin from my hair! I was spell bound. Over the next few months, I tried and tried. I prayed for God to give me special powers, so that I could pull off a magic trick. And eventually I resigned to the fact that I wasn’t special enough and that God didn’t give me the power to pull out a coin from someone’s hair. I moved on from magic to other things, but the magic bug never left me. I was hooked to magic shows, Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, Dante, Siegfried and Roy, Harry Houdini to the most recent David Blaine, you name it and I have seen them all (On TV!)! And then there were movies, The Prestige and the most recent Now you See me. They had me hooked right from the word go!
But as I grew older, I started being more rational and more philosophical at the same time. And I was starting to see magic as something unattainable until that one fateful night! I was on my way back home from a long day at work and I was catching the last train back home. I was eating a burger I packed for myself, when a couple of homeless kids boarded the train. The train was pretty empty and they could sit anywhere they wanted to, but the ladies gave them strange and dirty looks and hence, they sat down next to me. They were fighting over a small top and each wanted to try their hand at spinning they top! I was eating when one of them, a boy of 10, the oldest, looked at me and the burger in my hand. I was expecting he would ask for some money or the food. But he looked hungrily, at me and the burger and asked, ‘that must taste good no?’ I felt terrible, as hungry as I was, I couldn’t digest the food any more. I just smiled back at him and gave him the rest of the burger. He refused! He said, ‘no no didi… its very late for you to have dinner… you people are used to having dinner at a fixed time no? You eat it… we are used to being hungry, now our stomachs don’t hurt as much.’ By now, I was in physical pain! The boy was making me feel so terrible. And there was nothing I could do. He wouldn’t take the burger, nor would he take money. He just sat there, playing with his little brothers and sisters and smiled at me, making conversation with me. Something came over me and I thought there was one way I could stop feeling so guilty about this! I offered to share my food. I told him he was a big man to say no to the whole burger, but he could share it with me and his siblings… and we could have it all together. The boy was hesitant, I could tell… but he looked at his younger siblings and agreed. And there we were sharing a small burger together, like friends!
The word magic is explained as the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces. But in that moment, on an empty train at 11 in the night, I experienced magic. And I pulled this trick off myself! I didn’t need supernatural forced, nor was it mysterious. But it was magic alright! I didn’t know the boy, I didn’t know his siblings, I didn’t know his struggle, I didn’t know what would happen to him after that night, but in that journey back home, we shared our lives. And we shared something so magical, that words cannot describe it. Yes, it could have been unhealthy sharing the food with them, but ‘magic’ took over me. And I could only see the joy in their faces. The boy even commented that no one would ever do this with them. They don’t like it even if we touch them when we beg. I felt terrible. I was one of those people who didn’t like it when they touched. I also sat at a distance, if they came close. But in that one moment, all of this didn’t matter, because we were just a group of kids, sharing and enjoying a burger.
It was that day that I actually understood magic. And now I see it all around me, even in the most mundane things. Have you ever noticed how the sunlight changes the colour of your special one’s eyes? Have you ever noticed how flowers turn to face the sunlight? Have you ever noticed the joy in a child’s face when given his favourite candy? Have you ever felt the pure love when your girlfriend just looks at you and smiles when you say I love you? Have you ever noticed the pride in your parent’s voice when they are telling the neighbours what you do for a living, despite the fact that they hate you for choosing arts over science? Have you ever seen how your brother tenderly and unconsciously touches his raakhi/bracelet given by you? Have you ever seen how your wife’s grip tightens around you when she is hugging you goodbye? There is magic in all of this. But we, in our busy lives over look them and search for magic elsewhere, like pulling a coin out of someone’s hair!
In today’s world of fighting, wars, building more boundaries, religious and physical, maybe all we need is a little magic to save our beautiful world. No, all of can’t be magicians and can’t pull off or understand the great tricks and illusions that experts can do. But to feel magic and see it, we don’t have to do much. Just keep your eyes and your soul open. Magic is all around us. Life is in itself, magic!