- by KParthasarathi 27 Sep 2008
The old woman was living alone in her small house. She was getting a small pension after her husband died. She had no wealth except the house. Her only son left for US and married a Mexican. All contacts with him were gradually lost. She was falling sick frequently these days. It is the way of the world for friends and relatives to keep away from the needy, be it of physical help or money. Luckily she was a woman of grit and had the courage to live her life alone though it was difficult during periods of sickness.
As she was returning home late one rainy evening by a deserted road, she stumbled in the darkness on a small boy lying under the protruding sun shade of a closed shop. It was wet and damp. The boy had a torn shirt and was shivering from the cold wind. She took pity on him and knelt by his side feeling for any fever. The boy moved a little and moaned in pain or hunger that she could not make out. She gave him water from the small bottle she always carried. Once refreshed he sat up and told her that he had run away from his village and had been roaming in the town for shelter and food. He had not eaten for the last two days. An orphan, he was living with his grandmother in the village. She passed away five days back and there was none willing to give him shelter. He said ”Grand ma, I will help you and stay in your house doing all the work you ask me to do for a handful of food. I cannot bear this hunger anymore.” She took pity on the boy and took him home in the drizzle. She gave him a towel to dry himself and some clothes to wear. Meanwhile she made a hot broth from rice and gave him bellyful. She told him ”Do not be worried. You can stay with me. I will put you in the corporation school nearby. Study well. We can be of support to each other. Sleep well.”
Life was running smooth for the boy. He studied well and helped his grandma as he called the old lady in running errands and fetching medicines when she fell sick. The old lady also found a purpose in her life and was no longer despondent as she used to be. She showered her affection on the boy as if he were her own grandson. The boy had a fancy for film music. He had a golden voice and could sing very much like the leading singers. He used to take part in competitions initially in school and later in public forums. Years went by and the boy joined some music director. He became busy and spent all the time with the director mostly out of town. He explained to his grandma that he can no longer stay with her as he was away most of the days and came home at odd times. He told her he was equally sad to leave her but assured that he would take care of her in times of need.
The boy became busy and grew to be a reputed play back singer over the years. He came to meet her occasionally but this also stopped after some time. It is not that he forgot her. His work took him to Mumbai and he became so busy he hardly had time even for his rest and relaxation. Meanwhile the old lady deprived of the only company longed for her ‘grandson’. She became morose over a period of time and when she became disoriented failing to recognise the day, the place she was staying and also the neighbours, she was admitted in an old age home which took care of such people. She was gradually sinking though living in her world of imagination unaware of the surroundings and the people.
When the renowned music singer cum director visited the city for a gala award function that was graced by all the big and famous, a few close friends could discern certain melancholy in his face. He brushed aside questions whether anything was bothering him. Immediately after the function he excused himself and went in his huge car along with his assistant to the house where he lived with his ‘grand ma’.When told that she was in an old age home and was in poor health, he rushed there. The old age home had never witnessed a car of this length and shine. They had no visitors of even relatives let alone eminent and rich men. All the inmates in their dirty and semi clad clothes came rushing out to see who the visitor was. Someone in the road knew the name of the director and soon his name was bandied about loudly. He rushed in to find his ‘grandma’ in emaciated condition and fell at her feet sobbing ’Grandma, I have come. I have come. I will take you with me and keep you in comfort. I am what I am thanks to your compassion. I cannot forget the hot broth you fed me on the cold and rainy day. Grand ma, tell me whether you recognise this fat man?”
She looked at him vacantly with blinking eyes tying knots in her torn sari. There was no sign of recognition. The director broke down and hit his head with both hands crying inconsolably “I am responsible for this pathetic sight. Had I not left you in search of money and fame, things would not have come to such a pass.” The head of the home said in a consoling tone that she had not many months to live and assured him that they would take care of her well till her last breath.
The director took out his cheque book and donated a tidy amount of rupees ten lakhs for building the home and naming it after her.AS he looked at her with sadness, she was still tying knots in her sari. Overcome with grief and sobbing loudly he placed his head on her legs before reluctantly leaving the home.