The old man was sitting on his charpoy, a hookah pipe pressed between his lips.
Every evening of everyday was same for Mohan kaka. He would sit there in the veranda and gaze somewhere in horizon. No one knew what he was thinking about. My guess? He probably remembered his glorious days.
He was a Con artist in his early days. I would rather say the Robin Hood of the locality. He would scrape the zamindars of their money and give it to the farmers. Which in reality was theirs in the first place.
He was worshipped by the people of his village. As he grew older, his body didn’t allow him to continue with his work. He changed identity and went off to live in a nearby village.
But secrets can never be kept Secrets. Not in a village at least.
Rumours took shape of talks, talks to prying and everybody knew who he was. But by the time it was all out, no one seemed to care. No landlord ever came after him and since then he lives peacefully in the house in front of mine, all alone.
His son, Brijesh was married and lived in Mumbai. He visited him once a month which then became once a year gradually. Mohan kaka didn’t seem to mind.
I would go sit with him in the evening just to give him company. But he never uttered a word, neither I. We just sat there silently, he gazing far off and me trying to figure out if I will behave the same way when I get old.
Today was somehow different. As I came near, he smiled at me and said
” Aren’t you late today? I have been waiting for you.”
Surprised and happy I replied ” Had been to the bazaar kaka. I returned just now”
He made me sit and asked “Can you do me a favour?”
What possibly can this old man ask from me? I have been seeing him for few years and all he does is eat sleep and smoke. He never in these years changed his routine.
I was taken aback when he actually talked to me!! And now this? Favour?
His voice helped me come out of my thoughts.
” Is there a problem?”
” No kaka, tell me what can I do for you?”
His face got stern for a slight second, lips pressed as if he is trying to keep his emotions at bay.
“As you know I am old now. I may not have much time left. Can you write a letter to my son, telling him to come see me in the earliest?”
I felt pity for this old guy. His son had not come to visit him since two years now. No enquiries of how he was or was he even alive?
My eyes were moist and throat choked.
“Of corse, I will do it right away” I said, and left before my voice would give away.
Brijhesh came a week after the day I posted him the letter.
When he found his father in good health, he got irritated and started shouting at him.
” Why did you call me in such an urgency. I was so scared. I left my work , my wife, children only to come see you in all good health smoking away that hookah?”
As he saw me standing outside his home he stared at me, clenched his fist, jaws tightened as if trying not to say anything stupid in front of me.
The old man was as usual in his own world. Not giving a damn to what his son has to say.
Brijesh finally said he will leave the next day by the first bus and went inside the room.
We continued our daily routine of silent sitting. As I was about to leave, the old man said ” Make sure you come here tomorrow morning before he leaves.”
Confused I looked at him for some further explanation but all he said was
” thank you and good bye.”
Next day when I knocked at his door, a shocked pale face of his son opened the door. The old man was lying peacefully on his charpuoy, a piece of paper lying next to him.
It was as if someone had turned me into stone. I couldn’t say a word, couldn’t move. I just stood there, horror struck.
His son took the paper and handed it to me. As I was reading it I couldn’t hold my tears back.
It was his will. I sat near him and started stroking his soft grey hair while reading it.
It said, all his properties belonged to the one who silently was with him all the time. To the one who understood silence better than words.
To Narayan Kumar Patil.
To me?? He had left me a fortune. An amount I could never think of. An amount I would give away happily to bring him back. But nothing of that sort was going to happen.
I looked at Brijesh, my face as blank and white as a paper.
He smiled at me, with lowered eyes. I could see guilt and shame in them.
He said “You deserve it”.
Had it be known that the old man was a wealthy person, I am sure he would have been taken better care of. By his son, by his villagers too.
Mohan kaka lay there with a smiling face as if telling me “this is all I could give you for all those evenings”
Its been years now. Mohan kaka is gone. But I can still feel him sitting beside me smoking hookah while I sit in that same charpoy gazing across the fields.
Day 13 of the ultimate blog challenge.
By- Sweety Pateliya