“Get up Birthday buoy; aren’t you getting late?” Kuhoo almost whispered in my ears.
There is nothing sweeter than your wife waking you up on those special days (of course when she is in good mood).
“No. Sonu has messaged; the flight is delayed by an hour”.
Sonu sponsored the trip as my laptop was dead. Our genius friends in support department had done some changes in my user account settings that had deactivated my windows password as well. And I had to go to my SAP office in Kolkata to login (in office LAN) to revive my laptop. Plan was to go to Kolkata in morning and return to Patna in evening.
I boarded the flight to Kolkata at 10 AM.
It is rightly said, some words have physical meaning, and not just meaning. One must undergo such words to understand their meaning. Consulting profession has given an opportunity to travel to various places, know and interact with various kinds and types of people; and that has helped me go through and understand a multitude of emotions. I have understood what is love and infiniteness; what is pain and heartlessness; what is survival and selflessness. Over the years, I think, I have become too receptive to such emotions; and that often compels me to vent any overflow.
Anyway I wasn’t in much hurry and my taxi driver knew all the roads of Kolkata. He took me to the roads I would never have believed hadn’t I passed through them.
And then I reached Bowbazar; actually on a road called B.B.Ganguly Street.
I found a series of Jewelry shops on one side of the road. I had some time, I thought to get down for few minutes and pick up an earring for Kuhoo.
The first shop I went to was a small one, and it was attended by a single person who was already losing his cool answering to three-four customers simultaneously asking for something in Bangla. I decided to look for a bigger shop; but realized that my taxi driver had already parked the vehicle at some distance. I started walking.
An old man shouted at me and said something that I couldn’t understand. But I stopped. I saw the old man, who was actually a hand-rickshaw puller and was asking whether I wanted a ride.
He was around 70; may be more. So lean and weak that he could just manage to walk. I saw his eyes, they pleaded for a customer. I saw his body, they pleaded for rest. I couldn’t ignore him. I knew about hand-rickshaw pullers in Kolkata and in some other parts in India; and I think I have read or heard news about them as well a number of times. But I had never seen them so near, I had never imagined how cruel it could appear. Possibly I will never be able to explain the shiver I had; because I too couldn’t have felt it, had I not actually stood before such person.
For once I thought to give him some money but that could have dishonored his labor; I couldn’t accept his offer either. I felt I will cry.
Finally he spoke in hindi. “Achca. Koi aur jayega”. He almost smiled as he bailed me out of the predicament.
“Dada, aur koi kaam nahi kar sakte?”
“yehi hai, bus”.
“…lekin aap beemar ho jaoge..mar jaoge….” I spoke something incoherently..I don’t remember.
“wo to sabhi...jab tak mara nahi..jinda hai”. I have heard such words in movies, but for the first time I heard these words from someone who actually meant it.
He turned to the other side of the road, found another customer and moved on. I stood there for some time. He didn’t even look back.
I proceeded towards my office and completed my work around lunch time.
Around 2.30 PM I left for New Town (near Rajarhat) where my friend Anupam has just relocated from CMC Vellore. He has just joined Tata Medical Center (TMC) as Consultant - Haematologist and Bone marrow transplant. At TMC I saw another set of people fighting for survival; and yet another doing their best to save lives.
It was once again an emotion packed birthday to me. And finally Bhabhi (Anupam’s wife) who has also joined TMC (actually the same day) almost ran back from hospital and prepared that yum Rajma Puri for me. Perhaps she knew I couldn’t have my lunch that day.
|Anupam and Bhabhi|
In the morning flight I was almost cursing some people for making me travel on my birthday; in the evening flight I had a quiet moment to realize the purpose. I wasn’t complaining any more as I had learnt few more lessons to honor this life.
I landed at Patna around 8 PM. Kuhoo and Adi were waiting for me to cut the cake. We didn’t go out as Kuhoo was in middle of cleaning the rooms. I too was little tired. But Adi wasn’t; he did what loves the most, putting the cake all over our face.
Over the dinner, Kuhoo asked about my laptop. I smiled. "My hand-rickshaw has come back to life".