That Day It Rained Heavily
That Day It Rained Heavily
It was eight o’clock at night.
“You should not step out in this heavy shower,” was what I heard, my mother, saying to my father.
He did not look at her, pretending as if he had not heard what she just suggested and tried to look outside of the window to see if it has stopped raining. The persistent downpour was making him more anxious.
It was a small town in the northern Himalayan part of India. Nature has bestowed upon all its beauty in this town. Blessed with two vibrant green rivers and wrapped with blissful mountains made it even more picturesque. It was geographically small but full of life. Here people would almost know each other by name or at least by face. Everyone seemed to know everything about everyone else. People appreciate the familiar faces they see every day.
Come the month of December, winter season, and the temperature starts its journey nose dive. During this season weather becomes too cold to bear and days are generally shorter and the nights are longer and darker. Wind blowing and thunderstorm at night makes it even scarier and chilly. Frequent rains add to the problems and disturb normal life. At times days are just freezing, forcing people to stay indoors.
The sky was dark and cloudy, the continuous shower was giving an impression of the scary and stormy night ahead. My father settled on the floor near to the heat-blower and started massaging his feet. A person of high character and moral values who always believes in good karma. His small-town upbringing has instilled these values in him. His conscience was the strongest element of his nature. A God-fearing man, who seldom raised his voice on anyone and was highly regarded in and around the colony we resided at that time. He allowed himself to be mixed with the people and always stood by them during their hard times.
My mother, who until now was busy in cleaning up the kitchen post our dinner, enquired him,
“Do you want to have ginger tea?”
It was a ritual to have ginger tea to keep ourselves warm during the winter and rainy seasons. This was the time when my father would tell us various stories about his own time, about our grandparents. And at the end of each story he would, without fail, tell us the moral of that story and how we should imbibe those into our lives. Those were the most inspiring and motivational stories and had a profound impact on us.
“Yes, please,” he replied.
It was still raining. An occasional thunderstorm would make him a bit apprehensive. The anticipation of the shower not stopping was driving him crazy. I just removed the window curtain and looked outside to check if there is any sign of rain being stopped.
“Papa, It is still raining heavily and I don’t see it being stopped anytime soon. How would you manage it? “
Before he could say anything my mother declared –
“ He will not go now. Besides rain, it’s too dark and chilly now. He may fall sick, hence not going. “
This sounded like an order to him. Though, I knew, it would not have the desired impact today. Rarely, would he defy such orders but today my intuition hinted that he will overrule it.
“He would be waiting for me, I must go.” He argued in a low but firm voice. His concern was evident.
“Let’s wait for some more time. I am sure, it would stop raining.” Was his opinion.
He began reading the newspaper which he had already read countless times.
Being a kid, I was perplexed, why would someone want to step out in this scary and rainy night to hand over dinner to a disowned and mentally ill person?
I wondered, “what would he do if shower does not stop?” Will he still go? or maybe, have an excuse and drop the whole idea of going? “
“Why do you want to take a risk for a stranger, that too a mentally disturbed person?” I asked him.
“Cause he is a human being, who ,unfortunately, happen to have lost his normal brain functioning.”
“Agree, but is it really worth jeopardizing one’s life for such a person?”
“ Yes, it is, the world should be a better place for every individual, including helpless and hapless one. Every single soul on this earth has right to live happily.”- he replied emphasizing the last word. “His family might have disowned him but as a human being we must not.”
A lot of unanswered questions were arising in my tiny head, but I did not extend the conversation further.
This whole thing started one day when he requested my mother to prepare extra food for one more person.
She enquired – “Who is this extra person? Would he come home for dinner? ” she stopped what she was doing and waited for his reply.
“Oh ! No ... No... he will not .” before my father could continue his sentence.
“Then ? ” – my mother asked, looking puzzled.
“I will deliver to him. There is one mentally ill man, I saw him on the road which leads to the nearby market. He lives in a bus shelter. We should feed him dinner if possible.” He explained.
Since then, it had become a custom for him to finish his dinner first and then immediately leave the house to handover that mentally unstable man his share of food before it becomes too dark outside. This would take him somewhere fifteen to twenty minutes to return. With time, a strange relationship blossomed between them, a silent one though, where none spoke a word. The bond was so deep that he has been doing it without fail.
Yet today it was different, the rain was adamant to wash away his routine. He never faced such a situation before. He took one last sip of ginger tea and stood up. Looked outside with the help of torch, his face lightened a bit. “I should go now. It’s better to go... I can pull it off. ” He said and left the house with a tiffin, an umbrella, and a torch.
“Please be safe and return soon” – was all my reluctant mother could say. She looked a bit nervous.
Now the atmosphere in our home was restless and uneasy. I was not happy that he left endangering his life for a stranger. I was worried about my father. We all sat quietly and I kept my eyes trained on watch. My anxiety started growing. Negative emotions were running high inside my head. How long has it been since he left? I took a deep breath, trying to comfort myself with happy thoughts. To ease up the mood, I switched on the TV and physically tried to shake my negative thoughts away. My heartbeat was racing against the time and I was getting impatient. It felt like the longer I waited for him, the worse my thoughts became. Suddenly, after a long while, there was a knock on the door, it was all we wanted to hear. I rushed to open the door.
He was drenched completely but the expression on his was face was joyful. He could hardly contain his happiness. He was smiling continuously as if he had won some sort of competition and was prized heavily. He returned home with immense joy and satisfaction in his heart. After changing his clothes, he occupied his place near the heat blower and – “That gentleman was waiting for me and when he saw me, his eyes got wide in surprise and recognition. Though he is mentally ill, he recognized me and smiled when I handed over him dinner. He is deprived of the language capabilities but his eyes shouted loudly that happiness settled in his soul. I could see his soul through his innocent smile.” - My father detailed it out.
I sensed, some sort of pride in my father’s voice, a priceless one. He had no words for the gratitude he felt due to this noble act. In my mind, more than this act, his selfless emotions to a discarded and mentally ill person was more intriguing. He looked at us and advised –“One should be selflessly kind towards human being at any cost.”
This routine of delivering food to that “Gentle Man ” carried on until one night when my father returned back with food and declared -“No need to make food anymore for him, seems he has left that place. I searched him nearby but found nowhere. He is gone.” – his voice was soft,bearing a sad tone.
“Who would feed him now?”- I asked holding back a sigh.
“Son, humanity might have abandoned him, but the universe would take care of him in one or other form until he is on this earth,” replied the man I admired most.