Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Gift

The original idea behind this blog is of Sharique Noorul Hasan. Its just that, he is too lazy to move his fat ass.
Both the hands of my wall clock embraced themselves and my phone rang.
"Happy Valentines Day."
"Happy Valentines Day Payal. I was just going to call you."
"Yeah, I know that Shona. So, what were you doing?"
"Nothing much. Was just missing you."
"Office tomorrow?"
"Have taken off darling. Special day, special plan for tomorrow."
"Oh, I love you my cute teddy."

Girls have a different way of treating boys. At first, they are just friends, then they become boyfriends and then they become 'Toyfriends'. Well the conversation didn't end there. Somehow, the network connection went sick, then I had to call her back and it lasted for good couple of hours. Next day, I promised to meet her at Nehru Place.

Nehru Place was not much crowded today, except for the few pizza burger eating techno freaks, who surprisingly happened to own a girlfriend too apart from their iPhones. Payal arrived, clad in some form of dressing that made her look bit funny but really sensuous. I still don't know, what that dress is called. She brought a extra large bouquet and something else packed inside a velvet box. After the mandatory love greetings I said.
"We are going to see a special couple today."

Gopal Jee and Savitri Jee stay at Nehru Place bus stop. Gopal Jee must be around seventy years old. Long grey beard and wrinkles running from everywhere to everywhere on his face. Savitri Jee must have been ten years younger, but she looked the same as her husband. I have been watching them, living there, in that bus stop, for almost couple of months. They would spend their entire day staring at each others eyes. And at night, they would light a fire somehow and rest in each others arms.

They are so weak that they can't walk for begging also. Neither they have the energy to cry out loud and ask for it. And without melodrama, people don't give a penny to beggars. Poverty, winter and old age is a cruel combination. Sometimes, I used to pay them twenty rupees and they would ask for someone else's favor to bring them food. Mostly they survived on water. Sometimes I would lit my cigarette using the fire that they light up in the evening and have a chat with them. They didn't speak much though. That old couple, for some reasons caused me depression, everytime I met them. Today I met them again.

The weather is warm and sunny today.
"Ram Ram chacha..." I greet him with a smile and sit on my knees. Payal is standing beside me.
"Ram Ram beta..."
"Khana khaya ki nahin chacha?"
He didn't say anything. That meant no.
"Aur Valentines Day mana rahe hain ki nahin?" I asked.
They looked perplexed. Perhaps, they weren't aware of the new festivals that are being celebrated in the country these days.
"Aaj office nahin gaye?" He asked me.
"Nahin, aaj main ne chhutti le liya hai. Aap dono ko ghumane le aaye hain. Yeh meri girlfriend hai." I just hoped, they knew, what girlfriend meant. Payal was still standing beside me silently.
"Beta hum log ghoom ke kya karenge. Yeh to chal bhi nahin pate hain."
"Chaliye na chachi. Main inko le chalunga."
Gopal Jee smiled and that signalled his agreement. I held his arm, he got up, partly supported his weight on my shoulder and we moved to SONA restaurant.

SONA restaurant was not more than hundred meters from there. But it was like a different world for them. I asked them to order whatever they liked. Very hesitantly, he asked for 'Aloo Parantha'. And she just asked for the same. I insisted them to have Roshogulla and then Lassi too. They had everything pretty fast. She wiped the Lassi that got stuck in his moustache with the help of her Sari.
I bought two shawls for both of them. And I offered the shawls along with a five hundred rupee note to them. That old man had tears in his eyes. He almost cried, when he said.
"Beta..." He could not speak anymore.
"Arey chacha..." I just hugged him tight. And I hugged his lady love too. Gopal Jee had a twinkle in his eyes and Savitri Jee had a smile on her face. Payal too had a brief smile. Then, we said the couple good bye.

Payal and I moved to a restaurant called Barista or something. She didn't speak much, which was rare. So I grabbed the opportunity to speak.
"Valentines Day, the way we celebrate these days, is more about fashion than about love. It seems more like an Archie's Gallery promotion activity to me. India is not that poor a country to have people dying of hunger. We all can chose to make little efforts to cause big differences in others lives. A large part of our money is spent on maintaining our lifestyle and social status, which we can chose to avoid or at least cut short. I wanted to do my little part with my meagre salary. And more than that, I wanted to gift you the twinkle Gopal Jee had in his eyes, the smile Savitri Jee had on her lips and the feeling of 'I am a good human being', which is a source of absolute happiness and a bliss in solitude."
Payal listened very patiently and seemed to be in a pensive mood. I guess she was really feeling bad about the poor people for their being poor. Without much fanfare, we said our goodbyes for the day.

Next morning I had a text message from Payal, when I got up.
Yesterday I had a wonderful experience. My gift for this Valentines Day is due.
 Love you.'