Saturday, November 24, 2007

Magnanimity is above circumstance

-by KParthasarathi Saturday, November 24, 2007
Blog this story

We live in a small town, rather an oversized village, about thirty kilometers away from a big city. It is an old house slightly narrow but very long with a porch at the entrance and a large vacant ground at the backyard. It was built during my husband’s grandfather’s time. We chose to live in this place as my husband had large areas of land in the adjacent villages. A lawyer by profession my husband is not practicing much these days except to help old clients. The children who are in the city visit us during week ends off and on.
One summer evening when I was watching the TV I heard someone calling ’Amma’. When I went to see who it was I found an old man of about seventy, frail and small built and not looking well off. He had a smiling face belying his indigent circumstances as revealed by his tattered shirt and much worn out chappals. With a soft and pleasant voice he said “Sorry to bother you. I came to this place to return some amount I had taken as a loan. The person to whom I returned the money came home only at 9pm.The last bus to my place had left at 8-30pm and the first bus leaves early in the morning at 6am.Would you kindly allow me to sleep on the raised platform (thinnai in Tamil) in the porch for the night. I do not know anyone else here. My relations with that person were a bit strained and there was no question of my asking him.” As my husband had not returned from the city, I hesitated for a moment. My six year old grand daughter who had come to stay with me for the week end said” Grand ma, please allow this thatha(grand father) to sleep in the porch. Where else can he sleep in the night? He looks tired and hungry.” This clinched the matter.
I gave him a mat, a pillow and a sheet to cover as mosquitoes are a menace here. Declining to have food, he accepted a glass of buttermilk when I insisted. I could hear his talking to my grand daughter and her peals of laughter now and then. I could see a jovial personality within this frail man depressed possibly by financial worries. When I came out to take my grand daughter, he told me that he had a married son with children who are living in the North. The daughter in law was also employed in the government.
The old man’s wife fell from the bus some years ago and is unable to walk. She needed help even to take her to bathroom. Luckily one lady in the adjacent flat is very friendly and helpful whenever he had to go outside. After this accident the son and his wife became distant and aloof. He was sending money earlier whenever asked for. But the old man has since stopped asking. He was getting some pension that was just adequate. He had no complaints to make and was thankful to god for keeping him physically fit and healthy to take care of his wife and manage his affairs without imposing on others
A thought crossed my mind. Financially not sound, advanced in age, a crippled wife, denied the affection of his only son in the twilight years of the couple, he counted his blessings instead of crying about his disappointments. He was grateful to god for the doughnut he had instead of cursing the holes in it. I wished him good night and went inside with my grand daughter Shruti.
When I got up in the morning and went out to the porch with a cup of coffee, I found he had gone. The mat and the sheet were neatly folded and kept over the pillow. When I lifted them to carry inside, I found a small paper folded and on opening a fifty rupee note fell down. He had scribbled in pencil “To dear Shruti, with love, Thatha” I wiped the tears from my cheeks.


  1. Touching write.Thanks for sharing.

  2. There are tears in my eyes too as I read your beautiful post. Some rare people, like the old gentleman in the story, have grace, dignity and the courage to give, even when life is almost unbearably difficult for them.
    Thank you for writing this. I will read this to my students as an example of 'composition with a human heart'.
    best wishes