A Story of Betrayal, Too Deep for Tears
By Someswar Bhagwat
A friend sent me a long story by C. S Chandrasekhar in Telugu ‘O Tandri Katha’ which happens to be the theme of a book I am writing on the final years of life ‘The Golden Years – What Youth Should Know About Aging’. It touched me so much that I felt it should be in English or Hindi to be read by people of other languages too. So I am writing a gist of the story here as my translation into either language will not do justice to the original and I could not contact the writer.
A housewife in Tirupati, Poornima, opens the front door early and finds an elder sitting on the steps. She asks about him and he says his son left him there as he was searching for the house of a friend whose cell number he lost. He was asked to wait there as going around the houses would be too strenuous for an old man. Hours later she still finds him sitting here, sweating in the hot sun. Pitying him, she invites him in, puts out a chair for him and gives him cold water to drink. As his son did not come even by lunch time, she gives him Rasna though he was feeling shy about causing her the trouble.
Her husband Balraj comes home for lunch. He recognizes the old man as Raghav teacher who taught him maths in his school days. The teacher was famous for being good all around and Balraj says he was a software engineer today because of the mathematics he learnt from him, (reminding us of APJ Abdul Kalam saying he was a space scientist because of his village maths teacher).
He invites the old man for lunch and finds that he was brought there by his son Rajesh from Bombay. Asked for his son’s cell number he hands them his phone saying that due to failing sight he presses wrong numbers. The couple find all contacts and messages erased. Raghav says he may have done it himself by mistake. Balraj comes from office and still finds the old teacher there and it was clear that he was left there deliberately. It was God’s blessing that he did so at the houses of his old pupil.
Balraj tells him how his father died when he was still in school and how his mother brought him up by cooking meals at weddings. When his mother was away in some other village to cook, the boy was going hungry and Raghav realizing this asks his wife to feed the boy on such occasions. Balraj was grieved that she too passed away after the teacher retired. So his son Rajesh persuades him to sell the house in the village and stay with him in Bombay, where he had married a woman without the consent of his parents.
The teacher give the Rs. 30 lakhs he got from selling the house to Rajesh who wanted to buy a house in Bombay. Balraj makes his brother-in-law search for Rajesh at the address given by Raghav and it was found that Rajesh and his wife vacated the house the day after he left his father in Tirupati pretending he was in search of his friend. Rajesh invests the money he got from his father’s house sale in partnership with a friend who cheats him and also elope with Rajesh’s wife.
A few months later, Rajesh comes to the place where he left his father deliberately, erasing all contacts in the father’s phone. He tells Poornima that he regretted for what he did to his father and wanted to beg him to forgive him. Poornima tells him that his father died a few days after he was abandoned. Rajesh pretends to be in grief and says his father had his mother’s jewelry when she died and may have kept the ornaments in some bank locker. Poornima tells him Raghav kept them with her for safe custody and hands them over to him.
Balraj witnesses their meeting unobserved and later asks her why she handed them over when she knew that Raghav, grateful to them for sheltering him, presented them to her. She tells him that she could see through Rajesh’s deceit and that what he came was for them. The couple were grateful to Raghav for -giving them a father as both lost their parents. Too self-respecting, Raghav was still alive, but did not wish to live on their charity.
He had hired a single upstairs room in the in the same house and was earning a good living by giving tuitions to as many as 50 students found for him by the couple who respect him as their father. “Raghav master and his wife were so good, why did God treat him so badly,” Balraj wonders and Poornima tells him that it was by God’s mercy that he was left at the house of his old pupil. Had she let his son take away Raghav again, he would have left him in some jungle to die as he came only for the jewelry, pretending remorse.
This was the heart-rending story I found ‘a tale too deep for tears’ and wanted to share with all. This is the story of many elders in India.