Oct 27, 2016
I had just settled down for a rest in the nearby bus stand after an hour’s stroll, which is a part of my daily regimen. The sight of an aged man sleeping under the bus shelter was irritating me since the past one week. Something within me kept goading me to wake him and ask him why he was sleeping in a public place. He seemed a normal person, not differently-able or mentally disturbed. He had some personal belongings which he had placed by his side and a few clothes used as a pillow.
I woke him up. He got up slowly with a painful face, slightly disturbed.
“Is it the place for you to sleep, it’s for the travellers” – I told him knowing full well that what I just said was not in good taste.
“Even I am a traveller, brother, we all are” he said. I was stunned. Maybe he was right.
“If I was a rich person, loved by a family, I would not be sleeping here” – he said. “If my wife was alive I would not be sleeping here. If my only son and his wife had not abandoned me, I would not be sleeping here” – he added.
Then he explained his sordid story to me, like how happy he had been as a watchman working for a private company, how content he felt when he married a girl from his neighbourhood, district, how happy they were when they were blessed with a son as their eldest child. “Everything was so nice back then, with everything going well for me and my family. “
Troubles crept into the house after he lost his job for some silly reason, after his wife passed away, and then he went into depression. His daughter-in-law ill- treated him for one year and one day on the night of Diwali he was told to vacate the house.
Since then he had made the bus stops his shelter, shifting from one to the other whenever someone like me objected to his sleeping in a public place. “What is public and what is private for a person who doesn’t have a place of his own?” he asked me.
“It’s going to be a year, and we will have one more Diwali approaching us.” He said sarcastically.
I felt terribly hurt. I cursed myself for having disturbed his sleep, and his peace of mind. Then I decided that I would find him a decent place to stay, where he would be welcomed as a member of a family, where he would be assured of affection and the most needed love and care.
But when I reached the bus stop the next day, he was gone. He was right, he had moved away, for he was a traveller, like any of us, on this earth.
From then on, whenever Diwali is around the corner, a festival that signifies man’s victory over evil and the killing of Ravana, I keep asking myself if we have ever been successful in killing Ravana around us, for they are more than one.
Lord Ram killed one Ravana and that was not the end of the story.
Today we have many Ravana’s to kill, but their names are different – They are called poverty, corruption, terrorism, communalism and lawlessness. Diwali will be incomplete not only this year, but in the years to come if we do not meet them head-on.
With a pinch of a salt -Archives: