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TNN | Apr 1, 2017, 10.00 AM IST
Flipping through a book of quotations a few days ago, I stumbled upon a quote of Marcus Aurelius, "Do not act as if you were going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over you. While you live, while it is in your power, be good." I wondered how a common statement can touch somebody's life so personally, as this quotation took me to a trip down memory lane with my grandfather's face and deeds floating before my eyes.
My grandpa worked as a manager at a film theatre in Jaipur and those were the days when cinema was one of the most popular means of recreation for the masses as well as the classes so his profession would give him ample opportunity to meet hotshots from all walks of life. It also included silver screen celebrities who kept flocking to Jaipur, a city that fascinates the tourists from world over, for excursion. I am not able to abstain from mentioning that my grandpa looked so dashing that once a film actress had offered him protagonist role in her film and also promised to cast him as hero in all the films she would sign in future. However, he had refused the proposal as working in film industry was against our conventional family values and more so as he was a family person who could not stay away from his family. The sight of his children playing around was the ultimate delight for his heart; an elixir of life.
However, more than his easy on the eyes outer appearance, he was known for his tender-heartedness. He was a kind hearted man who would often go beyond his means in helping others. He believed that God resides in human beings so they must be respected and taken care of with all the resources one has. He was a great philanthropist and saw living beings as different manifestations of the Almighty and loved them with heart.
He would say that each person has inside some basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts on it, he is giving a great deal of what it is the world needs most. It is not complicated but it takes courage. It takes courage for a person to listen to his own goodness and act on it. He kept reiterating that goodness is the only investment that never fails.
And he proved it.
It was a chilly December morning. My grandparents were all set to go for an outstation trip to attend a family function. It was when they were waiting for their train at the platform that a beggar came to them and asked for some money to have a cup of tea in order to get some respite from biting cold. In tune with his kind nature, my grandpa gave him not only some money but also a woolen cap from his carry bag.
As the train chugged along, he complained of some uneasiness and expressed his wish of taking a nap to my grandmother. After a while my grandmother tried to awaken him for breakfast but was taken aghast to see no movement in him. It, in turn, had awakened her to the harrowing fact that my grandfather had bid adieu for his final journey. He had suffered a life claiming silent heart attack. Not to say this blood curdling experience numbed her. Somehow, she mustered courage and stepped out of the compartment only to see the same beggar, my grandfather had helped, standing at the compartment gate. As the drowning man clutches the straw, she apprised him of the situation.
Completely shocked, he immediately rushed inside the compartment to take stock of the situation and then, to my grandmother's dismay, confirmed her doubts. He consoled her like a family member and told her not to reveal the matter to anybody or there may be some legal tangle. As soon as the train stopped at the next station, he called a friend and arranged to get my grandpa down from the train pretending as if he was not well and sleeping. He also arranged for a taxi for their return journey and accompanied my grandma back home. Rest is so obvious.
No doubt, that person was an angel for us who came to my grandmother's rescue when she found herself in the tightest spot of her life. I always co-relate it with my grandfather's kindness that he showed to all and sundry. It was perhaps destined that he will take his final farewell from us that way only, but all that happened reaffirmed my faith in the fact that it was my grandpa's investment in goodness that my grandmother found a savior on that fateful day. Now, I more firmly believe that goodness is about character and that more than anything else, goodness is about how we treat fellow living beings.