Good Deed7 mins 968 7 mins 968
It was 5o’clock in the morning when Ali reached the “Shri Shiva” restaurant. He entered the kitchen directly and started chopping vegetables for the day. The restaurant was situated opposite to the Mumbai’s Dadar station, and the hustle-bustle had already started. It was a Tuesday morning and the regular customers were arriving for the Tea and Poha (Puffed Rice). The cooks were soaking Poha, boiling water and making the kitchen ready for the day. Two waiters were already taking orders and serving the known faces. Noises such as, “Ek chai, ek coffee, do plate poha. (One tea, one coffee, two plates Poha)”, “Do coffee (two coffees)” were doing the rounds. The cleaners were cleaning the black tables speedily and making place for the new customers.
Shri Shiva was a small restaurant with 20 tables, but the crowd was mostly fast moving. Many customers even paid before looking at the bill as it had become their everyday business. The customers were calling waiters by their names and waiters were welcoming customers with friendly gestures. Ali had finished chopping the vegetables and joined the force of waiters to serve the increasing crowd and their variety of demands. He was in his early twenties and was quick and sharp. The owner Mr. Shivdas had already given him more responsibilities after observing his work for six months. Among most of his responsibilities one of the important responsibility was to brush off the beggars who used to gather around the restaurant. Ali used to do all these things very honestly.
Everything was normal and routine until Ali observed an elderly person sitting on the corner table. He was a middle-aged man with unrealistically black beard and white face. His face was calm and composed. His eyes were deep like filled with wisdom. His smile was mischievous as if it knew everything but would disclose nothing. His hair was long, and pony tailed. He had a strong built body which was an apparent example of regular exercise. He was drinking tea and to Ali’s recollection the man had been seated there since morning. The calmness in his gesture troubled Ali for some reason and Ali marched toward him.
“Hello sir, do you want anything else?”, asked Ali politely.
The man smiled and replied, “No, I had enough for today.”
Ali asked again, “So, should I bring the bill?”
“Of what?” asked the man.
“Of the tea, which you had drunk”, Ali tried to be polite.
The man, for the first time looked at Ali, smiled and said, “Yes, please.”
Ali went to the bill counter and came to the table again, but the man was gone. Ali looked around the restaurant quickly but could not find him. There was a single entry and exit door near the bill counter, but he had not seen the man leaving either.
“Bloody, thief”, murmured Ali angrily and glanced at the table. The table was clean, but something was glowing below the glass cup. He removed the glass and looked at it carefully. It was a gold coin which had unusual scribbling over it. Ali was amused, he could not give the coin to the greedy owner and decided to return the coin to the stranger whenever he would come back and paid for the tea by himself. It was an unusual experience for Ali, he worked the whole day but could not forgot the stranger.
Next day he came early in the restaurant and took the duty of serving, rather than vegetable chopping. He did not want to miss the chance of meeting the stranger. He kept looking at the door and serving people halfheartedly. The stranger did not arrive that day. Ali was sad, but he hoped that he would meet the stranger next day. Fifteen days passed but the stranger did not show up. Ali had given up the hope of seeing him again. He decided to give the coin to Shivdas next morning as it was his restaurant.
Ali started his day with regular work, he chopped the vegetables, brushed off the beggars and started waitering. As the crowd slowed down a bit Ali decided to give the coin to Shivdas and explain him everything. Suddenly, someone called him from the back with his name, “Ali.” He turned and saw the stranger was seated in the corner and was drinking tea. This time he was looking at Ali and smiling. Ali ran and sat beside him.
“Where have you gone? When did you come? Why did you leave the gold coin? Who are you?”, Ali sputtered all the questions at once.
“Calm down, Ali.” The stranger was smiling. A moment lapsed without any word. Ali was looking at him strangely.
“Keep this, I paid for your tea, it was not that expensive. My boss does not know about this.” said Ali putting the gold coin in front of the stranger.
“You paid my bill, similarly as you give away the leftover food to the beggars? Your boss does not know about that either.” The stranger was still smiling.
Ali’s face became pale, he looked around rapidly, but everyone was busy. Waiters were serving food, cooks were cooking and Shivdas was handling bills. Customers were busy in their own world.
Ali looked at the man intently and asked, “How do you know this? I give away the eatable food which is anyhow going to waste. There are children, elderly people and some are disabled. I just helped them.”
The man was drinking tea calmly.
Ali held his breath for a moment and asked again, “Are you a policeman? Did my boss call you? I have never taken any food for myself though there are times when I sleep without eating anything. For god’s sake, do not arrest me. I am not a thief.” Ali was sweating and stammering now.
The stranger looked at him with love and said, “I know you are not a thief Ali and neither I am.”
Ali recalled his words and felt ashamed.
“You are my true son. You have always helped needy and stayed true to your work. You are honest and hard working. This is the reason only you could saw me.”
Ali was looking at him surprisingly.
The stranger smiled again, “Haven’t you realized that no one calls or pays attention at you whenever you are with me? Haven’t you realized that the coin is lakhs of years old? And haven’t you realized that you are sitting on the 21st table when your restaurant has only 20?”
Ali glanced around again, no one was looking at him. He counted the tables and he was indeed on the 21st table. He looked at the stranger again and asked, “Are you Allah?”
The stranger smiled and answered, “Do you ask the religion or name of the beggars before helping them? Then why are you asking me my name. But only if you need to know then I am a “Good Deed”. Call me Allah or Shiva or Jesus, but you will only find me on the places where something good is happening and never on any other place. Hence, I call myself “Good Deed”.”
Ali could not see the stranger any more, his eyes were tired. He closed his eyes and seconds later his fellow waiter Zafar called him loudly, “Ali.”
Ali opened his eyes, he was in the middle of the restaurant’s hustle bustle. Some known faces were calling him by his name, few were making gestures to order food. Ali was numb, he could not understand what was happening. His eyes were searching for the stranger but could not find him. Minutes later Ali saw a girl helping a blind man in crossing the road and suddenly her face was turned like the stranger, again girl, again stranger. Ali was confused, he turned his face and saw the stranger again feeding the hungry on the road side, the stranger turned into an old man again stranger again old man.
Ali smiled to himself, he recalled the strangers last words, “You will only find me on the places where something good is happening and never on any other place.”