You don’t really need to know the person to learn a valuable lesson of life, writes SUMEET NAIK
One who has experienced Mumbai rains know how unpredictable it gets at times. On one such mid-monsoon day, I finished my late night shift and was walking towards Churchgate station. Usually a 15 minutes walking distance from Nariman Point, that particular night seemed never ending. It was pouring down heavily, thunder lightning to add on special effects and to make things worse, it was windy. Few strays barking here and there, the entire Oval Maidan stretch was deserted. How could you even expect someone to be around on such a day and that too past mid-night?
Managing to protect myself from getting drenched, somehow balancing my umbrella I decided to walk little faster than I normally do. To make matters worse, just as I was crossing the K C College junction, street lights went off. I still had 30 minutes in hand before my last train could chug out of the station, so I readjusted my speed in darkness and decided to walk slowly. Reaching Eros theatre, I stay put on one side under the poster window roof in an attempt to take a breather before I could rush into the station and board the train.
Just then I noticed an old man (must be in his late 70s), dressed formally looking helpless without his raingears or an umbrella. First glance and I thought, he must be waiting for his car to come and drive him home. Just then I heard him speak to his wife who had called him to know his whereabouts.
“Don’t worry I’m waiting for the rain to recede. There are cabs at a distance but since I have forgotten to carry my umbrella, I don’t want to risk getting drenched. Hope you took your tabs, I shall be home soon”, he said to his wife and hung up.
I moved closer to the old man, asking him to remain where he was, assured him that I would fetch a cab. Luckily the first cabbie I happened to stop amidst thunderous downpour agreed to come along after I pointed the finger towards the old man letting the driver know who he had to ferry. Sharing my umbrella with the old man and helping him get into the cab I shut the door.
I had hardly turned, the old man asking the cab driver to stop for a minute said, “Hey gentleman, Thanks for the concern. This is a small token of love from me.” Before I could understand what was happening, with a firm handshake he slipped in a 100 rupee note inside my palm. I refused to take it by saying that I was just doing my social responsibility.
What he said next made me remember this incident till this date: “I can make out you are working at a high position, but you are still grounded. Keep it as a father’s token of appreciation to his son’s noble gesture.”
As I saw the cab move ahead, I knew I was probably seeing that man for the very last time. I heard him tell the cabbie Colaba. I missed my last train that day, but along with that 100 rupee note (which is still in my wallet, never to be spent) I pocketed one of the most important lessons of life. That…KINDNESS IS NOT AN ACT. IT’S A LIFESTYLE.