Sunday, May 31, 2009

A quirk of fate

I have read somewhere that success in life is not coming always to genius and happiness is not guaranteed to clever. Life can be cruel to a few even when they do not seem to deserve. I could witness such a quirk of fate recently. I clearly remember my class mate Venkat for he was a class topper and sat in the same bench adjacent to me. We were thick friends. Puny physically, he was lean and tall. He had a large reddish birth mark on his right arm. He came from a poor family and he used to wear the same khaki colour shirt. I remember my putting an ink mark to see whether it was the same shirt and his getting upset with me. He was a nice chap and very friendly. He has told me of his ambition to be an engineer and also his apprehension whether it would materialize as they were very poor. He had many sisters and brothers. I left the school in my eleventh class when my dad was transferred to North and I lost touch with my good friend there after.
It was about four decades later when I was attending a marriage of my colleague’s son in Chennai that I came across my old friend in totally unexpected circumstances. I was seated in the dining hall along with my colleague and several other friends who were all well placed in life. It was a marriage done in style and ostentation. As the servers were serving the food and different delicacies, I saw the reddish birth mark on the extended arm of a tall puny man in his fifties who was placing a sweet on the plantain leaf before me. Recollecting that my friend Venkat had a similar one, I looked up and could instantly recognize him. The same tall figure and the unmistakable aquiline nose confirmed that I had not gone wrong. When I asked him whether he was not Mr. Venkat, he nodded in agreement. I asked him “Don’t you recognize me as Partha? We were sitting adjacent to each other in classes nine and ten. He hesitated for a moment and said that he had not met me before and tried to retreat hastily. I persisted asking him to make an effort to remember me and the ink mark I had made on his shirt? For a split of a second his cloudy eyes cleared but he left denying any knowledge of me or the incident. I was doubly sure that he was Venkat and that he wished to remain unidentified. I could not thereafter enjoy my lunch or the conversations around me. How could this misfortune happen to such a bright person whom I had hoped would rise to high positions?
Immediately after washing my hands, I rushed to the kitchen area looking for Venkat.Not finding him there, I approached the head cook and asked him where I could find Venkat.He replied that he came to him and pleaded severe head ache and wanted rest. He must be back in a couple of hours, I was assured. Thereupon I told him about my friendship with him in my younger days and asked him how he came to work as a server. The head cook, an elderly man, narrated how Venkat’s father died suddenly leaving behind a very large family with no resources to fall upon. He said the entire responsibility of looking after his mother, sisters and brothers fell upon his young shoulders. He had not completed class eleven. As his father was working for him for several years, he took pity on this young boy and took him under his fold. He has married off all his sisters and educated his brothers. But he has remained a bachelor.
I could understand now why he wished to hide from me. He must have seen my shock and pain on seeing him in such a role and being a man of high self respect, he probably wanted to save me further embarrassment. I wanted to help him in some way. I left my card with the head cook and requested him to ask Venkat to call me in the next two days when I would be in Chennai. But he never did make the call.


11 comments:

  1. the wind of success and happiness blows where it wills …
    that’s what life has taught me ..

    you seem to be in a hurry sir these days!!!

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  2. Thats quite touching,its just that when ppl expect so much from u and you in smway do not fall fit on their expectations as u may think is the case u try 2 hide from them, its not just this case but many other situations where this has happened.Expectations make u soar high but it also leads u to dismay if not takn in the write way..r expectations v r ourself is the most difficult to fulfill. Geat post, thanks:)

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  3. As long as Venkat is happy in life, it does not matter what he does :) Why did he have to hide himself from a childhood friend? Don't you think he should have trusted the narrator's decency and good manners?

    There is more to life than the so-called socio-economic status of a person.

    Best wishes :)

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  4. Sir, Venkat may felt reluctant for various other reason....but, who knows, he might be happy and proud for dedicating his whole life to his family. I think success is purely subjective :-)

    But, your narration was good!

    ~ Have a good day ~

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  5. dear partha,
    hats off to venkat!he is the real human biing!it's quite natural for him to be away from you as i can understand his feelings............
    very touching post........in many houses,you can see avenkat.goodness still remains and it makes us humble.
    happy writing......
    sasneham,
    anu

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  6. Children's fortune are dependent on parent's wisdom and this is a classic example of that.Touching post it is.

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  7. A good story which highlights that strange are the ways of fate.. We think we are in control of things and that we create our own destiny - which is true but we have to go through what destiny has in store for us..

    Which is why Lord Krishna has recommended a sound advice for all of us - Do your work diligently and well and do not worry about the results..

    cheers

    Vish

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  8. Story or real experience?
    It's quite natural and human tendency not to recognize you at that moment....but how long and from how many he can run away from?

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  9. how fate plays beyond ones control..i just hope Venkat finds pride in whatever he does, that way he will live in pride and at the end of the day, what all matters is what one thinks of oneself.

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  10. Your friend Venkat's situation is totally understandable, and there are innumerous reasons on why he did not call.
    But you tried your best to help him, that shows the good in you
    His dedication towards his family shows the greatness in him :)
    I am enjoying reading all your posts :)

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  11. sir, you left me with nothing to say on this :(

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