Kishore babu as he is known is a rich man leading a peaceful life after handing over the business to his sons. A kindly old man he spent his time reading spiritual books, visiting temples and attending religious lectures. His palatial house overlooked a large municipal park situated in sylvan surroundings. This park with its best laid pathways for the morning walkers drew large crowd .One could see joggers running, old men and women walking briskly, yoga sessions on green spots, children playing in the playing area on the slides and swings and young romantic couples hiding in secluded spots under the trees watching the ducks swimming in the large pond in the centre. Vendors were seen busy selling to the young and old jal mudi, gol goppas, alu tikias, ice creams of different brands and fluffy sugar candies in pink colour
Kishore babu invariably spent the Sunday evenings at the park watching the people and the playing children. The children all well dressed from well to do families flocked the ice cream vendors and were busy buying cones and cups of ice-cream in different colours and tastes. What saddened Kishore babu was the sight of ill clad poor children in tatters watching with drooling mouths from afar the rich kids licking the cones and slurping from the cups.. The hapless kids did not approach the vendors but kept staring hungrily at the fortunate children with mouths open. Kishore babu had not forgotten his early childhood days in poverty with his mom working in different households to make a living. He left the park abruptly and in a depressed mood much earlier than his usual time.
The next Sunday Kishore babu was seen sitting in his usual place. Not yonder from him stood one man with a tall stool with large cubes of ice covered by gunny bag and a carpenter tool like planer on the stool to shred the ice cubes. Mounted on his stool was an array of bottles with coloured sugar syrups in red, yellow and green. As the rich children started buying and eating cone and cup ice creams, he invited the poor children to come near him and have one or two as they desired of ice cream made of raw ice from the man by his side. The glee in the children’s faces, looking at the man shredding the ice, fixing it over a stick and pouring coloured syrups, should be seen to be believed. Their joy multiplied when their demands for repeated helpings of sugary syrups were willingly met by the man. Kishore babu was a picture of contentment when he saw these kids were no longer eyeing the affluent children on the other side. Satisfied at the unexpected treat, they all gave him a shy smile before scampering off.
This became a hardy Sunday ritual with number of kids growing. But Kishore babu did not mind. He surprised them frequently gifting them T shirts, school bags or packets of biscuits or some such stuff. Though he did not talk to them much, the poor children looked upon their benefactor with certain fondness and awe. It was one Sunday Kishore babu had not turned up. The children were all eagerly waiting for his arrival. One of the kids ran across the road to his palatial bungalow and saw a huge crowd of people and an array of cars coming one after the other and stopping opposite the house. Promptly the other children also gathered and stood at a safe distance watching the movements. They came to know from a security guard who was shooing them away that the old man had died of a sudden cardiac arrest in the afternoon. The body was kept in the hall for the stream of distinguished visitors and relatives to file past. It was time for leaving for the crematorium. The eldest son of Kishore babu who knew his dad’s fondness for the poor children and his Sunday trysts with them asked the security to send them in to have one last look at their patron.
It was a measure of Kishore babu’s compassion when the visitors saw a huge retinue of poorly dressed children walking past the body in tears and uncontrollable sobs.
“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”Ralph Waldo Emerson