This old man was the caretaker of a multistoried building consisting of 24 flats. Considering his old age, the land-owner has given a special space near the elevator room to relax a while during his free time. So the man was happy that people are respecting his age. To relax in a leisurely manner, he arranged a cozy bed, some snacks cooked by his daughter in law and his pocket radio. He also had a hand-fan made with bamboo sticks with embroidery.
Day by day he started loving this place so much that he used to spend long hours after his work and listens to radio. His favorite radio programs were old film songs, news, cricket commentary and the question answer sections on agriculture/farming. As he was friends with the people around, the women in the apartments served him ‘lemon tea’ which he demands after he finishes the work. He used to visit every household to inquire about any problems related to water leakage, electrical complaints etc. He happily accepted outdoor works like buying fish, groceries and vegetables for the households and never bothered to return a small amount of balance money and loved to ‘keep the change’.
He liked to crack jokes with the children and ask them to solve riddles and puzzles verbally. It was routine for them to chat and play with him. During one such interesting session, a boy accidently kicked his radio. That really made the old man upset and sad but he never wanted to spend a penny to fix the same. However, everyday he tried to get it repaired by himself with a screw driver and some tools. He turned down the requests of the boy who showed interest to fix the radio. The boys were upset too but the friendly man did not stop playing and joking with the kids. People missed the blaring songs and radio activities.
By this time, everyone knows that he was a miser and also carried a secret bag full of coins/currencies in his pajamas. This money was the result of the collection of those extra earning from outdoor work. He never wanted to take out any money from his bag and the poor daughter in law had to take up some teaching job for a meager salary to meet the ends. Her husband visits them once in a month as he had job in another town. So the old man and his daughter in law were leading a difficult life. The bad part of the old man was he never supported the lady financially and she had to manage everything with her salary. She left with no salary during holidays and summer breaks in the school. During such times, the women stitched clothes or babysit in the apartments.
To make matters worse, the old man became ill and he reduced his duty hours to sleeping hours in his room but never stopped trying to fix his radio. One fine day people once again heard the loud music and news. The boys happily shouted ‘mission radio fixing achieved’. The children wanted to celebrate this mission and asked the old man for chocolates. But the man simply avoided saying ‘I won’t spend my money on you’. The boys were unhappy but soon they forgot about this incident.
Few more days passed with the lovely songs and news but the man could not be seen on his usual round ups. He shut himself in his room due to illness and he became weak to move on. The old man never wanted to visit the doctor or take medicines as he would lose his savings. The news of his illness spread around and finally the proprietor, as kind as always, gave him additional money for treatment and asked the daughter in law to take care of him.
People saw the lady leading him out of his room by holding his hand. The lady was murmuring to him – “you will be fine. Leave the radio and the hand fan”. We will collect them later”.
But the old man was so adamant and shouted in his maximum voice ‘Why should I leave my things here”? He carried them in one hand and walked slowly, step by step with his daughter in law. A week passed. Two weeks had gone by no signs of either the daughter in law or the old man.
Everyone in the apartment – the landowner (as the old man was an expert in taking care of all maintenance works of the whole apartments), the women who served lemon tea for him and the children missed the radio programs rather than the old man. People started going out themselves for shopping of grocery but they realized that the man had absolute knowledge of pure stuffs and easily identified the contaminated goods including the vegetables and fruits. Listening to his radio programs was a habit developed unknowingly to most of that crowd. But they could only understand the potentiality of those Q&A programs which has helped their daily life through this old man’s shopping tactics.
As the saying goes, ‘the show must go on’ everyone got busy with their routine. It was late afternoon on a mid summer day, the daughter in law entered the apartment with a big smile. She was wearing a new dress which was gifted to her by the old man and had a box full of chocolates to be distributed to the kids. Everyone was surprised to see her face glowing with extreme happiness. All were eager to know about the old man.
People were throwing questions on her, where is our old man? Is he fine? When is he coming back to work? We all miss him and his radio. The lady calmed them, showing-off her new golden bangles. Everyone kept silence, all ears waited for her speech and eyes shining with anxiety.
She continued – “Dadu (meaning old man) is fine. He is still in the hospital remembering the good old days he spent with you all”.
Someone interrupted her – Why are you distributing the chocolates if he is still unwell?
She continued, “ he was listening to a radio program one day where a father was narrating a story how his little boy opened his eyes towards charity and taught him the joy of giving and sharing. The man bought two toys one for his son a very costly toy and another cheaper toy. He asked the boy to hand over the cheaper toy to their servant’s child. The father was shocked to see his son gave away his favorite costly toy and wanted to know the reason for his foolish act. For this, the boy replied, dad – ‘I am happy and blessed to have my dad who loves me a lot and he can afford to give me more costly gifts. But when I play with the boy with these costly toys, the boy feels uncomfortable as he can not buy toys and he refuses to play with me. So I gave both the toys for him and now we both can play and he has promised to donate his toy to the charitable trust during Christmas so the other children get a chance to play with toys.’
The program made his eyes open wide and see the world with a caring heart. He melted down like ice and cried thinking about his rude attitude towards the innocent children.”
The daughter in law left for the hospital carrying his favorite dish for the dinner. She was not sure of his discharge date from the hospital.
Everyone waited for his homecoming anxiously. That was a long wait and many even thought that he may not turn back. But yes, there he is! Walking down to his room, happy as a child, singing along with the radio song, roaming around very enthusiastically – people heard him say, I got a second chance, thanks for this second chance………..
Moral Of The Story – happiness in giving or joy of giving/sharing