Anita did not like the old man who came once a month .He was dressed shabbily with unshaven face and protruding yellow teeth.She wondered why her parents who belonged to the upper class allowed this man to come and sit in the living room and entertaining him with snacks and tea.He generally stayed for about 30 minutes.Her parents made it a point that she was also present as he came on on the last Sunday of the month. Much to her chagrin they would ask her to hand him over the snacks and tea.As soon as she finished this routine she would run away to her room in the first floor.Once the old man ran his trembling hand on her hair as she was placing tea before him.She was shocked and told him rather rudely not to touch her any more.His face became smaller and she could see the hurt in his eyes.But she didn’t care a tuppence.
Later when he left, her parents rebuked for her uncivil and rude behaviour.Her father in a gruff tone sternly said”I am disappointed with you. I didn’t like a wee bit the way you insulted the old man.He is visiting us at my request and he is my guest.You are hardly 16 as against his 70 plus.You should learn to respect elders” She expected her mother to come to her support..But she said in brief”What you did today embarrassed us much.Do not judge people by the riches and good apparel If we are in comfortable position it is the grace of God but that does not give us right to hurt those who are less fortunate”
Anita unable to suppress her tears ran up the stairs and flung herself on her bed.She hated the old man more now.
It so happened that the next Sunday her parents had to go out early in the morning itself leaving Anita behind with the female cook.The maid was working in the kitchen and she was watching the TV.It was around 11 am when she heard the door bell.When she went to the door, she saw the old man through the French window.Without opening the door, she said “My parents are not at home.They will be coming only late in the evening”
“Never mind, young girl.You are here that is adequate.I come here to meet you also. Let me in” he softly said with a smile.There was no trace of disappointment at her not opening the door initially. “I told you my parents are not home.I am alone.Please go away” she said in an acerbic tone “You are like my grand child Anita.I have come in the hot sun walking a long distance.Please allow me to rest a while.No harm would come to you by me” he pleaded’
Go away.Don’t you understand what I am telling you.Don’t call me by my name.I am not opening the door”she said loudly and brusquely.”
The cook who heard the bell was standing near the kitchen door watching.The old man did not utter one word but silently turned and slowly walked away.Anita could see him wiping his eyes but she never cared.
When her parents returned around 4PM, her father asked Anita whether there were any telephone calls or visitors.She replied that none came except the old man.She rushed back to her room pleading some pressing work.When Anita’s mom enquired from the work whether the old man was served tea and snacks, both mother and father came to know of what had actually happened. It was during dinner that the subject came up for discussion.Her father asked her why she had turned the old man out especially when she knew he was always entertained by him.
“I don’t like him.I hate his appearance, his tattered clothes and ingratiating smile.You cannot compel me to like him” she said defiantly.
“Shut up, you hot headed girl”.he roared in anger and continued”Do you think you are a rich girl?”
Her mother intervened and pleaded” Forgive her.She doesn’t know how much regard you have for him.I will tell her.She will not repeat this again.Please stop with this”
Her father said “No, it is time she knew the facts.Anita, brace yourself to hear some shocking news about yourself.You are not our biological daughter.We had no child.When the old man lost about 16 years back his daughter and her husband in an accident, he was left with the responsibility of bringing up the young baby girl of his daughter.He had lost his wife earlier some years back.When I heard about it, myself and my wife agreed to bring up the child as ours.Hec readily agreed and declined to take any money.The old man told us that he was happy that his grand child got a good home to live in good comfort and that he wanted nothing except to see the girl grow once a month.He had promised to keep your identity a secret and he did so till date.I want you to accompany me tomorrow morning to tender your apology and seek his forgiveness.”
Anita was shocked beyond words and the receding figure of her grand father wiping his eyes haunted her mind.The next morning when Anita and her father went to the hut, they were told he had left the place permanently without leaving any information about the place where was going.