The corner bench in the park is my favourite haunt. I have chosen this place for a reason in that it is away I from the children play area with its swings and slides. Chatty young moms with loud children playing boisterously spoil the solitude that I look for. I hate being disturbed from my reverie by boys coming to retrieve the ball hit carelessly towards my corner. Being in a corner slightly away from the pathway, very few come to occupy the bench. But it afforded a good view of a small fountain that is lit only occasionally. I am a poet of no great merit but still find joy in penning simple thoughts in abstract words giving an aura of a mystic.
Today the sky was cloudy though there was no sign of impending rain except it rendered the evening dark. As I settled down comfortably and opened my note book, a heavy built but stooping old man came towards the bench. He looked around a little unsure whether to sit by my side or not but finally took out his long coat and settled himself by my side. I turned towards him and said with a smile" Hi, I don't think it will rain though the sky is overcast"
"How can I predict? I am no weather man but I have an umbrella always" he said in a not a friendly tone making me look foolish.
.I felt rebuffed and wracked my mind to find some idea for my poetry. But it struck work after the jibe. I closed my eyes to avoid looking at him and wondering at the incivility and rudeness of some people. When I opened my eyes after some time, I found to my relief and satisfaction the bent man had gone.Within a few minutes a middle aged man came near me and asked" May I sit here?"
"By all means. II would welcome company" I said with a smile.
"Thanks. Do you come here daily? I would like to but hardly get the time"
He looked a bit shabbily dressed and did not appear to be a man of means. The stubble in the face he hadn't shaved also for a few days. The eyes were sunk and there was a pathetic look.
."Aren't you well? You don't seem to be in good cheer""You have good power of observation. You are right. I lost my job two months back and have a family to support. I have overdrawn my credit and have only some small amount. I keep visiting various offices in the day time for a job but the business climate being not favourable I am yet to find one. The future looks scary"
"I am very sorry to hear that. I wish and pray that you get one soon “I said
"Sir, do you believe in karma theory? It is all destined and the current bad patch of ill luck is haunting me like a shadow. It is very embarrassing to ask for help from unknown strangers though there are great philanthropists among them" he replied
"I am sorry. I do not have any money on me. But I wish you the best “I said with genuine concern.
The man stood up, muttered a few words of thanks and left. After sometime when I moved I my seat to make myself more comfortable, something brushed my fingers. It was a wallet and when I opened there were a few hundred rupees notes.Oh my god, this must be the last remnant of his money, I thought. I got up and literally ran along the side he took. Luckily I could catch up with him and said “Lucky you are that I found your purse that you had left inadvertently behind soon after you left. I am sure you will be able to tide over a few days till you get a job"
He took the wallet, said thanks and hurried on his way possibly to buy some food for his hungry family
I was greatly pleased at my act of kindness and returned to my bench. To my surprise I found the heavily built stooping man searching something under the bench and feeling with his hands as it was slightly dark.
When he saw me, he asked “Did you see my wallet that must have fallen down when I removed the coat. It is missing and must have fallen only here"
Stung by his rude reply a little while earlier, I said “How would I know? I am no detective or clairvoyant to find lost articles"