My Dad once told me that every person you meet in life has a story to tell but it depends on you what you do with that. Well I truly agree to what he said and not only the person I think the place and surroundings too have numerous stories to tell. Like a patients ward in a hospital would have many stories to share some happy some sad and even a platform at a railway station or an airport lounge would share a lot if they could. Perhaps everything around us is telling a story but we are not listening.
Though you get to hear a lot of stories as life moves on but a few refuse to fade away. After completing my M.Com I was offered the job of a Sr. Accountant at an NGO which runs an old age home named ‘Aashiyan’ on the outskirts of the city. ‘Aashiyan’ how ironical it is a name for an old age home. Well I just need my salary on last day of every month and I don’t care where the cheque comes from, I thought.
Just opposite to the windows of my office across the lawn was room no. 45. There was something strange attached to this room as I could feel in these 4 months since I was here. I have been noticing for weeks now that the ward boy would come and open the door in the morning and by 5-6 in the evening he would come again and close the door. Apart from opening and closing the door he would also come with food and also clean the room. All this time I haven’t seen anyone apart from the ward boy entering or exiting that room. One day Sunil, a peon in our office was on leave and the pantry guy sent the ward boy to deliver tea at my desk. Out of curiosity I asked him what’s the matter with that room, does anyone really lives there. He said Babu ji ‘People here say that old people can see the ghosts and they even talk to them. What do you think? Can it be true?’ and he just left in a hurry. I really couldn’t figure out what he said and how is this an answer to what I asked. Anyways, let it be I thought in my head.
A few weeks later:
Financial year closing was around the corner and there was a lot of work to be done so one fine Saturday I decided to go to office and complete my work. Being a Saturday it is supposedly a calm and peaceful as most of the staff is not in, barring a couple of attendants and ward boys. It was 6 in the evening and I decided to go back home. As I stepped out I could hear the siren of the ambulance approaching closer. Two men with stretcher were rushing towards room no. 45. Out of curiosity I stopped to check what’s wrong. This was perhaps the only time I have seen so much activity around this room. In a couple of minutes two men with the stretcher came out and there was an old man not that old though, may be in his 60s lying on it. He was not moving and there was tension on everyone’s face as they were putting him in the ambulance and in a flash, ambulance sped from there and all it remained was a sense of strange silence.
This was a very strange feeling, I mean sometimes you get drawn to things not at all connected to you but then the story beneath it wants to be uncovered and heard. My feet started moving towards the door of that room. As I entered it the feeling of loneliness and melancholy engulfed me. These feelings were not mine but someone else was living with them for years. At the other corner of the room was a blanket and that’s where he was sitting all these years staring at the door in some hope may be. I was so much immersed in the pain of a man whom I haven’t even met ever. Ward boy entered to clean the room. He looked at me and said ” Babuji, whenever I used to come here for anything he would tell me same thing. And sometimes he would just look at that wall where he had sketched that little boy and keep talking.” “What did he tell?” I asked. He would say “Beta, I know you are very angry with me because I didn’t buy you those shoes you’d wanted on your 10th birthday. I didn’t tell you but that day I spent all money I had in my pockets or in savings to buy an insurance plan for your education and bright future. I know you’re very angry and that’s why you don’t talk to me and don’t come to meet Me.” tears rolled down his eyes as he completed. “Babu ji, he’ll be back right?” ward boy wanted an affirmation from me. I didn’t look in in his eyes and left the room.
On Monday, when I came to office I saw luggage being taken to room no. 45, probably a new occupant has come to ‘Aashiyan’.