Somewhere on NH-17 (2014)
Mysterious are the ways of the human mind. A few key words with the right visual somehow triggers a memory that in the first place should have faded away a long time ago. Sitting in a packed car with a chatty family, staring out of the window, the visual of a beggar hobbling on a crutch immediately followed by the name “Chandrasekhar” used by uncle to address dad, unlocked a 23 year old memory of the guy with one leg.
With time to spare, nowhere to go and both mom and dad in attendance, I asked them about the chance encounter that happened in the summer of 1990. And this is how the prequel and sequel of the one legged man goes. Not a lot is known about Chandrasekhar, except for the fact that he was orphaned at the young age of two. He was a house help in a South Indian family who resided just a floor below my mom’s elder brother’s flat. Sharing the same native place as my parents automatically made my mother his elder sister and he would run errands for her.
My mother got married and shifted to the suburbs where she again bumped into him after a couple of years. He used to work as a bus-boy at the Udipi restaurant and would come home around afternoons or evening to help mom & dad with household chores. Other than bringing laundry and cleaning the house, he had one other important job. Taking care of my 2 and half year old annoying elder brother, who seemed to be attached to him by the hip. While mom used to struggle with the splendid 6 month old version of me, he would get her some breathing space by taking my elder brother all-round the locality firmly perched on his shoulders as my brother squealed with sheer joy.
With changing times and tougher economies, my parents eventually lost contact with him till the evening of 1990 when he mysteriously bumped into mom. After that very little of what happened to him is known, apart from a few facts. He got a Jaipur foot and life seemed to be kind towards him, at least for a while. He even got married. But then in a second accident he lost his other foot. He lived for a brief period of time after which he eventually passed at a relativity young age. That is all that was to the tale of Chandrasekhar.
In the end, my mother looked out of the window, sighed and said, “Poor kid, orphaned as a child, had no one to share anything, never really wanted anything and finally disappeared like this. Nobody will ever know he existed. God knows how many such people are there”…
Well, whoever has had the courage or the interest to read this story till here now knows that a man called Chandrasekhar once existed.
Author’s Note: What is life, if not a fantastic story? Epic tales of human emotions woven intricately within themes of sacrifice, failure, victory, redemptions, legends, so and so forth. Brilliant in narration, embedded in morality & life enhancing lessons as take-aways. Why is it then that the ratio of stories of human lives are far lesser than the lives lived by humans? Chalking out a 1:1000 ratio, roughly calculating one story per 1000 lives begs a far important question. Who makes the penultimate decision of whose life will be a story & which story shall stand the test of time?
The answer may not be so simple, after all, varying levels of combinations starting from Day 1 meld together to form an interesting read. From achievements to failures, from personality to adversity; from divine to depressing, the permutations are endless. But that gives rise to another question. If your life is devoid of these combinations, making you an average human, should your story not be told?
For the sake of our future & our stories, let’s hope that’s not the case…let’s tell the story regardless of the fact that we have an audience or not
– Sage-ing out