Old Man and Child

Every morning while going to school, I came across a child nearly my age, singing on the road with an old man playing the harmonium. The striking feature was that whereas other such singers on the road usually sing popular Hindi feature film songs, this boy was always singing hymns praising the Lord Almighty.
Most of the days I was in a tearing hurry to reach School and so did not have the time to stop and listen to the songs, even as I wanted too as the child sang beautifully. However one day on reaching school, we were informed that there would be no classes after the assembly because one of the students has expired, due to an accident the very morning.
We all left school heavy hearted and I align with a few of my classmates started off on our cycles for home. On the way back we came across this couple again, still singing, It was hardly 8 a.m, and we all felt pity on the child and stopped to rummage in our pockets t give him some money.
At that time of the morning, his singing was so impressive that we sat down on a fence by the side of the road and asked them to sit down too. The old man was playing the harmonium beautifully and as the boy sang, I could see tears rolling down the old man’s eyes which in turn reduces us to sentimental observes,
I was closely studying them and realized that leaving aside the general shabbiness, arising out if patched, insufficient clothing and equally shoddy foot gear, they appeared to be from a different background than their appearance.
We had been taught that ‘Appearances can be Deceptive’ and the curiosity in me was aroused.
After another round of singing, we asked the child and the old man to have a glass of tea each with coarse biscuits available at the roadside tea stall. They appeared to be overwhelmed that the old man started crying again. We somehow calmed him and asked them if they had any other problem which we could solve. It was then that we realized that the old man was literally blind with cataract.
The story that came out was so heart rending that we stood dumb struck. The old man, according to his narration, came from a well to do family of Burdwan in West Bengal. He had his own house shared with his elder brother and a grocery shop on the outskirts of the town. His son used to look after his business and he being fond of music, used to spend his time pursuing his hobby. His elder brother were a happy family with his young grand son and daughter-in-law .
The only thorn in their flesh was their stepbrother who was a drunkard, a gambler and a debauch. He had also laid claim to the house and shop, which was opposed by the Panchayat. The Sarpanch was a decent person who respected their family and protected them.
Due to political upheaval in the area during elections, their house and shop were attacked by the step-brother and his goons in the garb of political activists. The result was that the shop was burnt down and his only son stabbed to death.The violent mob then turned to the house and set it on fire after ransacking it, in the process his elder brother and daughter-in-law were fatally injured. He somehow managed to save his only grandson.
The irony of the situation was that a false was lodged against the old man, charging him with deliberately planning the death of his elder brother and daughter-in-law, by greasing the palms of the police and he had become a fugitive.
At this point all of us were moved to tears and we made a promise to take the old man and his son to the local News paper office. Unfortunately the office was closed at that time of the morning and we returned back.
That was all we could do as our parents wanted us to stay away from controversy but allowed us to help them occasionally with food & clothes.
The world is a stage and most of the drama enacted are tragic. This is the bitter truth and fact of life.

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