I feel that life is most beautiful not knowing the reality behind it. The deep devotion, the enlightening emotion we had for someone by superficial observation is beautiful, and we must not dig deeper than that. I was having this thought after talking to Mr. Kamala. This was the eightieth times in two years and three months I spotted him, all by mere chances, in front of the same old pharmacy, Goodwill Medicines.
Mr. Kamala (I had known his name just a few weeks back) was rather an odd fellow you would naturally spot even in big crowds. He wore the same pairs of trousers round the seasons, an old red shirt, and a pair of chapals whose soles were disfigured like a half eaten slice bread. He had an Aryan nose and thick, dry lips connected by unattended moustaches, and his empty eyes were housed beneath untidy hairs, as untidy as rodent nests. He was quite an odd fellow. He walked with his left hand on his chest, as if checking his heart beat, with slow pace, staring at things with detachments. It was difficult, not to look at him with pity when his whole sad face and structure seemed to circle only around that small polythene bag with syrups and tablets. I took him to be a very sick fellow, and I felt sad for the burden that rested on his shoulders and my heart was filled with pity. Soon enough, I made a good note of him, whenever I chanced to meet him, and kept a good track of the pharmacies he most visited, people he talked to the most, or anything else that would get me nearer to him.
We were taught that we should not talk to strangers, and in this modern century, we practice individualism, for we feel it’s the safest. This can be ascribed to the insecurities we have and the unknown belief that something bad is more imminent than good. And, maybe it was this insecurity that made him shoo away every time I tried talking to him. I had made an attempt to speak to him ten times, and every time he was more careful; on the tenth attempt, he ran away just the moment he saw me from a distance. I did not blame him, but to the consequences of the lacking of sensible values in some of the things we were taught to believe, which for that matter made us to do ridiculously the sensible, or sensibly the ridiculous. I never had the chance to talk to him until very recently.
I took him to be a poorer fellow in being spotted by me; I did not give up my digging on him. I did not want to leave him before knowing the sickness that had troubled him. I was so emotionally attached pitifully to him that I was ready to help him, in any possible way from my side but I needed to know his sufferings. A week back, I went to Goodwill Pharmacies (the pharmacy he visited the most) and asked the pharmacy-keeper, Mr. Saha about Mr. Kamala.
I asked, “This short, mustached fellow who regularly purchased medicines from here, what is his problem?”
Mr. Saha said, “You mean to ask me about Mr. Kamala?”
“I don’t know his name, but he always wears red shirt, disfigured chapals?”
He said, “You are right. He is Mr. Kamala. His father is having some chronic sickness and he fully nursed him.”
My regards for Mr. Kamala suddenly soared from mere pity to highest respect. He had been shouldering the sickness of his father, keeping himself away from any luxuries or debonair. His dedications taught me an emotional enlightenment that the goodness of men could not be judged by mere appearances, that ageless morality is not necessarily found in books, but on the regular men and women we come across in our walks of life.
I asked Mr. Saha with interest, “Can you tell me about Mr. Kamala?” to which he barely had the time to reply for he was dead busy with customers.
I said, “Can we meet on Sunday, 7:30 PM at Chinese Corners?”
He replied, “Okay!” and my mind asked whether he was serious, for if he did not turn up, something was going to be really undone in me. To my surprise, on Sunday, Mr. Saha turned up at 7:30 PM and approached directly towards the table where I sat.
He said, “Still burdened up by this Mr. Kamala?”
I said, “More than the puzzling Flight 370.”
He continued, “This Mr. Kamala is the strangest customer I have, the most dedicated poor chap I had seen. He abhors everything about himself or the world except his sick father. As far as I know from his acquaintances, they were quite well-to-do when his father was in his prime. They had a big shop in the most luxuriant spots of the city, and he and his sister were enrolled in the best school, until when he reached class XII, and his sister class X, their mother died with any warning. Within one year after that, his father caught up with some kind of sickness and most times, Mr. Kamala would take him to outside states for treatments. In the process money flew out like airs, financial instability grew. They reached a point where they need to sell their shop.”
“It is the worst of stories.”
“Yes, it is. The money from selling the shop was also soon exhausted and his father’s condition worsens. Changes from richness to poorness made her sister to get married to a guy, who people said is a good man.”
“How can his sister be so unkind? Can Kamala accept her acts?” I asked.
Mr. Saha said, “What do you have in your mind, leaving our sick father? Kamala asked her, and her sister replied that she was sick and tired of everything, that she felt it was more sensible to run towards her future with the guy. Kamala was furious and told her to run along in her future and warned her that there can be no future, leaving a sick father that he would rather nurse his father, the only god he can see for real.”
I said, “Poor Kamala! This is what has been troubling him. I sensed that, I sensed that first moment I saw him in your pharmacy, but I thought he was the one who is sick? But I feel now he is the best of humanity, he is a walking god among us.”
Mr. Saha, eating his noodles said, “You are right! He is one kind soul.”
Last Saturday, when I saw Mr. Kamala slowing pacing into Goodwill Medicines for the eightieth times, I ambushed him. He tried running away as usual, but Mr. Saha told him not to think it otherwise.
I told him politely, “I have been observing you. You are one kind man. Don’t worry god will bless you. Here, take this one thousand rupees note, as a token of my devotion to your cause and your faithfulness.”
He looked at me in surprise. Then he hurriedly took the banker’s note. We walked the flight of stairs, leaving the busy Mr. Saha. We happened to be more comfortable in each other’s company this time round.
I said, “Kamala, your story has inspired me, looking after your sick father even when your sister deserted him?”
He said gladly, “My sister? She is the greatest sister, I have seen. If it is not for her and her husband, I would have sold my house a long time back.”
I was perplexed, but excused him on his replies since I believed that good men like Kamala would not say anything bad about anyone, especially his own sister. To divert from the annoying story about her sister, I asked, “What is your father suffering from?”
He replied, “Asthma”
“Oh my god! You must be spending a lot by now?”
He said, sadly, “A lot and he would have been alright a long time back if he pays heed to my advice.”
“And what is that?”
“He is a chain smoker, and he cannot give up smoking. Thanks for the money.”