Despite owning palatial house, Gobind Pande chose to live in a retirement community that catered to 60+ senior citizens. His only daughter in Indian Foreign Service and married to another IFS officer lived presently in one of the Latin American countries. This community situated in a vast expanse offered a resort style living with all facilities. Depending on individual proclivity, one can enjoy privacy and independence or share the zest for living with other like minded people on matters of common interest and hobbies.Gobind liked to stroll around each morning in the sprawling area smelling a flower or watching the sun. He relaxed in the afternoons at the library amidst books or watching a movie. He had a few selected friends but was essentially a private person. Very affluent and with fairly good health in his early seventies, life was all rosy and sunshine for him.
One Sunday evening around 5pm Gobind walked to a park nearby and sat on chair watching idly passersby walking briskly or jogging. He noticed the man who came to sit next to him only when he coughed gently as if to attract Gobind’s attention. He looked at the old man with his flowing white beard and mustache reminding him of Santa Claus and responded to his smile with a hi. There was something in him that evoked a fearful respect.
“I haven’t seen you here, Sir, in all the years that I have been visiting the park” said Gobind.
“True, I go to places only when I have a purpose” he said in a squeaky voice with a faint trace of smile.
“Oh,I come here very frequently and live in the opposite retirement community”
“Then you must be a very wealthy man and must have earned lot of wealth”
“All blessings of God” Gobind replied modestly
“Haha, tell me what have you earned by yourself that will stand in good stead later”
“I don’t follow you. All the wealth is earned by me only though with grace of God”
“I did not refer to this material wealth of yours. What have you earned in this life that would stand by you always” he said
“Do you mean punya through philanthropy? I haven’t yet thought about it. I am fortunately in very good health”
“How many children do you have? Are they dependent on you?” he asked
“I have only one daughter who is married and in diplomatic service. They are very well off by themselves”
“Nice to hear. What are you then waiting for? Can you say with certainty that you will be here next week ?”
“True, one cannot. I have already in mind the idea to set apart a major portion of my wealth to various charitable causes. Now that you have drawn my attention,I will waste no time and will call my lawyer tomorrow itself for doing the needful. Can we meet this Wednesday here at the same time. I will tell you what I have done. Thanks for reminding me” Gobind said
“God willing we shall meet” he said witha twinkle in his eyes and walked away rapidly
Gobind got busy the next day and by Tuesday he had all things finalized with 70% of his wealth for philanthropy, a small portion for the community and balance to some needy relatives. On Wednesday morning he was restless wanting to meet the bearded man and tell him what he had accomplished. He walked to the park at 445 pm itself and sat on the same bench. Possibly because of his hurried walk, he felt a little breathless. He wiped his forehead and settled comfortably in the chair. It was past 5pm and the bearded man had not arrived. His uneasiness grew more and he was sweating heavily. He clutched his heart when there was a sharp pain that came in quick succession with greater intensity each time. He looked around. He saw faintly the white bearded man at a distance waving his hands even as the passersby crowded around him anxiously. He saw someone call 911 and thereafter there was complete darkness.