Aging is a reality that cannot be avoided. As you grow old, you retire from service or profession. You sit idle thinking back to the bygone days. Some memories of the past may bring a smile to your lips; some may bring tears to your eyes, while some may fill you with remorse. But whether good or bad, the memories help you keep going through the retired life.
Today, I have just entered a similar phase in life, and right now, a memory of my college days keeps flashing through my mind. So I love to put it down for my ‘Unveil.’ ‘Press readers.
When I was in my second year at ‘St. Francis De-Sales (SFS) college, Nagpur, Our batch was entrusted with organizing the hostel day. The hostel day celebration was an annual tradition. It happened to be a day of fun and frolics. So the venue was always fixed, ‘the railway officers club situated on Mount Road, Nagpur.’
We took over the club in the morning. By the evening, the stage was all set for the grand fiesta. We were waiting at the gate to welcome the guest of the day when suddenly a boy of hardly 8 years old sneaked into the club premises. He expected some alms from us. He said that since morning he had not had anything to eat.
Exhaustion, despair, poverty, and hunger were written on his face. Being busy, I turned my face away from him after a cursory glance. But unfortunately, most of us were not mature enough to realize the harsh reality of life.
A few of us poked fun at his helplessness and curtly told him to leave the place at once as the guests were to arrive shortly.
Sensing our annoyance, the boy walked off with a long face. A local man heard our conversation and later revealed that the boy had lost his parents in an accident.
His uncle not only grabbed his father’s share but also turned him out of the house. He now has no one to care for. He made his living by begging.
My mind was too preoccupied to lend the boy a sympathetic ear. I was so absorbed throughout the party that even for once, I did not ponder over the boy’s plight and the help the boy deserved from us.
After the celebration, I was full of remorse for the boy. I thought about how fate has cruelly played with the boy’s life; how vulnerable human relations have left him high and dry in this selfish world. At this tender age, he had been suffering hardship and indignation in silence instead of enjoying the bliss of childhood. The boy’s memory kept haunting my mind.
I was a student during those days, so I was helpless and could not provide him with any financial support. Suddenly, his ragged clothes flashed before my eyes. Winter was making its presence felt. I made up my mind to give that little lad one of my spare sweaters. I imagined how his face would glow with joy when I gave him the sweater.
However, the next two days were filled with thunderstorms and heavy rain. So I could not reach that poor boy. But the rain and storm could not wash away the memory of the boy from my mind. On the third day, I went to the location where I met the boy but could not track him down in the vicinity. I, therefore, made an inquiry from a ‘panthela‘ man and also recounted to him my intention to meet the boy.
I was in a rude shock when he told me that I was too late as the poor boy was crushed to death by an unidentified truck while crossing the road. The accident took place on the same night we met him. All my hope of bringing a light of joy to his otherwise hard life crumpled in my heart. Four decades have passed since then, but nevertheless, this incident still eats away at me inside for my indifference to the boy’s plight.