Factual warning: This is a story and it’s not a fiction. This is a story of a boy from yesteryear, who today is an ‘old man’, facing humiliation from the ones and all, for whom he spent his entire youth working in the sun.
This is a story and it’s not a fiction. This is a story of a husband of his ‘resting in peace’ wife, in fond memory of whom; all he wanted to do was to organize a ‘spiritual free-food’ camp for the entire village.
This is a story and, let me warn you one more time – it’s not a fiction.
During the time when colonial rule in India was ‘progressing’ towards its end, a child was born in a village named Bhawa, in the northern part of the country, and was named – Mohan Lal.
Not much is known about how he spent his early childhood, as he was an insignificant man for the entire nation, of course barring a few individuals who were either behind the creation of him or were in some way connected to him.
An ordinary child who did below ordinary things, and born into a reach family, he didn’t really have the chance to get acquainted with that state a man in later part of his life has to face when it costs him to even inhale the ‘free’ air. And that’s where he was first betrayed by his life!
At the age of 16 he was married to a 14 year old girl, who later fathered him with 5 Childs – 3 boys and 2 girls.
Yes, they, along with thousands others who didn’t care to think before ‘hopping-in’, were the very initial reason behind India’s messed-up population!
After the birth of his 3rd son, who was the youngest of all, Mohan Lal was ‘politely’ asked by his brothers and other relatives to ‘leave’ the family business and house and manage his and his family on his own. The second betrayal of his life!
He left, and he did well. Within few years he builds up a 2 storey house and a mustard oil factory of his own. His family member’s, who had ‘politely’ asked him to ‘leave’, went bankrupt. Then Mohan Lal, being a kind man that he was as he still is today, gave them a share of his factory, hoping that it would revive their lives as they are after all the part of him in one way or the other.
The factory did revive their lives as it was later sold by them and the money never came to the one who started it from scratch and who nearly ruined his own life in his attempt to revive the lives of his relatives – the relatives who deserve to rot.
But Mohan Lal didn’t flinch, he, with the help of the little money that his ideal wife had saved, started a new business – he opened a small ‘grinding mill’ where he would grind wheat and other cereal plants.
He was living a happy and healthy life and he went to live this life for some time.
Than his sons grew up! The third betrayal and the cruellest one! …and thus begun a new phase in the life of Mohan Lal. His grinding mill was by then had grown old and outdated and it affected badly on his business. In result, he first lost customers and then later his mill.
But he wasn’t worried; as he ‘hoped’ that his sons are there to look after him. And after what he had done for them, not necessarily because it was his duty, but because he was the reason behind their existence, what he ‘hoped’ from them to do for him was as small as ringing a door-bell of a huge mention and asking for a glass of water.
But fate had something else planned in for Mohan Lal.
His sons started hating him for no fault of his. But there must be a fault, right? So his only fault – he had grown old.
They would always make him nearly beg for the few rupees (as few as 100-200) that he would sometime ask from them. His wife would see all this and when it all started mounting, she again proved to be the ideal wife – she prohibited him for asking money from their sons, instead she would give him whatever money that he needed sometimes.
Saving was one thing that Prema, Mohan Lal’s wife, had learned at the very beginning. And saving she did. From the time when she got married to Mohan Lal, she had started saving money and she saved it in such a way that Mohan Lal never came to know about it, except the times when she told him.
And she had saved enough to grow happily old with her husband. But as I told you before that fate had something else planned in for our Mohan Lal, so it revealed its cruel plan one night.
They, Mohan Lal and his wife, had come back to Bhawa after a month’s stay from their younger daughter’s house in Calcutta, and were having their dinner together, yes even after almost 50 years of their marriage, they were eating in same plate.
That’s what love is actually. It never grows old; instead it grows by leaps and bounds if the two people in love are together growing old.
After the dinner, they prepared their bedding together and went to sleep. After half an hour, Mohan Lal woke up to the yells of his wife. She has had a stroke and was in extreme pain. Mohan Lal immediately called up their family doctor. But by the time the doctor came, the pain has faded away. Prema was feeling fine. So the doctor, too, after assuming that it was just some gastric problem, gave a tablet for it and left.
They again went to sleep. After sometime, Mohan Lal again woke up, this time to the light coming from the window. It was morning, the sun was raising and its first rays had entered inside the room. Prema was still sleeping, which was unusual, as it was always she who woke up first and then would wake him up. But Mohan Lal shrugged any bad thought by thinking that it’s probably due to the fact she went to sleep quite late after the pain in her chest and might be tired.
It was only an hour later he realized that she hasn’t even moved a bit from her night’s sleeping position.
“NAH” – Is all what came out of his mouth.
His body shivered at the thought of it and he fell on the floor.
When he woke up, his world had changed. He was once again been betrayed by life. He cursed it, and probably for the first time in his entire life, he hurled abuses at it.
Today after 4 months, after the death of his wife, he has been declared MAD by his sons for trying to do something good in the name of his late wife, who was always good to him and more than just good to them – the sons.
Today there is no difference between Mohan Lal and a street beggar. As a beggar lives on the mercy of others, so is Mohan Lal, who is merely surviving at the so called mercy of his Sons.He never wore a shirt that had no button on it, and today there is no shirt on his body.
His sons, as of today, has so much money that each one of them can buy an entire village of 100 family and feed them daily, but they don’t have that little money to feed the same old man, who gave them everything that he ever earned.
Mohan Lal has been always good to everyone – to his family, his people, his neighbours and his labours. The only one he haven’t been good – is he himself. He gave everybody something, but never kept anything for himself. All his property, he wrote it in the name of his three sons. And it was that property and money acquired through it, that made those 3 sons – the richest businessman in and around Bhawa. They have hundreds of acres of land in their name today and have businesses which are vending money on daily basis, but don’t have a heart that their ‘Old Man’ needs the most.
That was the story and it was not fiction. That was the story of Mohan Lal and not just one Mohan Lal, as there are thousands and thousands of such Mohan Lal, betrayed by life and rejected by their own blood, who are now living a forced and desolated life, weeping for love and waiting for death.
The youths has grown but grown on to become two-faced. I, myself am of 23 and so I guess that makes me a YOUTH, too. But all I feel is disgusted, as if this is not hypocrisy than I wonder if the youths, like they have altered their definition of life and individuality, have also altered the word meaning of hypocrisy?
Author's Note: As the story suggests, it is indeed is a true-life story of an old man, living in abject desolation. The story first appeared in an online newspaper YKA and was also published at ARTH