Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Retracing the voice

"Beta..", he called out.

The voice seemed familiar. I turned a deaf ear. I thought that wasn't for me.

"Oh, Beta", he called out again.

I was on the road, with my friends, and a shabbily dressed man was calling out to me. I assumed that probably he was insane, and was begging for alms.

I wanted to turn back and have a look at him.

I turned back but did not hold my sight for long because I was scared of the embarrassment. I peeped into the crowd, but I couldn't make out whose voice it was.

The voice kept haunting me and I couldn't remember where I'd heard it before.

I tried to ignore the voice....but...
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20 years before

"You'll have so many friends there, and Soumya is coming too", said my mum.

"Will they give us chocolates?"

"Sure, they would"

"Bhaiyya, be careful and pick up the kids on time"

"Don't worry, Madam"

"Beta, Chalo..", he said.

"Rickshewale, jaldi lene aana"

"Haan, Beta"

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I realized that the fellow who was calling out to me the other day was my old rickshaw puller - Shyamrao who used to take me to school.

I was amazed how he recognized me. I wouldn't have been able to point him out in the crowd. I couldn't.
I only wished if I could get to meet him one more time.
For a very long time, I used to perceive every other old, shabbily dressed man as Shyamrao. But I was not able locate him.

I was passing through a playground and I saw an old man lying on the pathway. I thought it would be him.
I approached the man and found that it was indeed him, lying, probably drunk. I called out to him.
“Rickshewale, kya hua?”

He was unable to breathe and I realized that probably he had an asthma attack. That was the reason why he had left riding rickshaw, i thought.

I knew I had to take him to the hospital. But there was reluctance.
“Chalo, Rickshewale”, I said and offered to take him to the hospital.
I dropped him at the ward where he was admitted and told him that I will be back in sometime.
“Beta, Jaldi lene aana”, he sounded insecure.
"Haan, Bhaiyya", I couldn't sound as comforting as he did when he used to say "Haan, Beta".

The theory of Karma seemed intriguing.
Finally i could retrace the voice and the subtle nuance of life.