Living with negligible acquaintances in a small city, where I have just started working far from home, I always knew it was going to be dull and hence never expected a lot from the place. As far as my social life here is concerned, I won’t call it a place with mind-boggling scenic beauty. In fact in the name of site seeing there was a river, equally malnourished and weak as the children playing around, was more of a hangout place for local laundry men and women. Few times I went to the river, to extract the last drop of pleasure, if any in the place, but in vain. Swollen carcasses of cows and buffaloes floating around, kids relieving themselves in mass gatherings, I will admit, it was not a place where I can get rid of my worries; In fact the place gave me few. After the utter annihilation of my expectations by the place, I eventually stopped my morning expeditions.
As I stated earlier, I have no friends here, except one with whom I share the flat. Different from me, he enjoyed this city a lot more than me, the reason for which I could never understand. This friend of mine worked in a bank and being in sales section has to meet new customers on a regular basis. His main aim was always to make new friends through which he can be called to free dinners and lunches. So as routine, his hard work paid again and he was called for a dinner by one of his new client. My friend at the bank being close to me, many times mentioned me during the discussion and hence out of courtesy his client requested my friend if I can also come. My friend gave me this happy news about the free meal asked me if I can come. The fact that me and his client have never met before, made me a little uncomfortable. Initially, I was a little resistant but after a while said yes. After all I was living in city way far from home and a good free dinner won’t be that bad.
I met my friend at the bank from where we left for his client’s house. On the way I asked my friend about his client. He told me his name was Mehtab, he was a cook in small roadside hotel and lived with his 4 children and a wife. On my way trying to make a mental picture of Mehtab Bhai, as I was meeting him for the first time. According to my imagination he must be a guy with a beard and wearing a kurta pajama with a scarf around his head. He must be having red stained teeth because of eating excessive pan or gutkha or both. The image I made for this guy in my mind actually matched a lot of cooks in small and cheap roadside hotels and I have no reason to expect more from him. So our host for the night called us and asked us to meet few feet away from his house. After the nagging conversation with the auto driver regarding the difference in the amount of money we were offering and his expectations, we started moving towards Mr Mehtab’s house. We have not walked a lot when we reached the crossroad where we were supposed to meet. I was astonished to see the vast difference between the man in real and the way I have perceived him. He was a young man around 35 years of age with a kid in his arms. He waved and smiled at us as he knew my friend. Nice cool shoes, tight jeans, a hand woven sweater, not branded but all clean he was standing. Look like he was expecting it to be a date or something. Anyways, after our formal introduction with Mr Mehtab and his daughter with running nose, who was constantly wiping the nose with a handmade sweater, we moved for his house. After passing some scary and narrow passages which reminded me of serial killers, we reached the place. House looked new to me as it had no plaster or paint, just the bricks with cement. We entered the house which had few steps to reach the main door. At the instant I entered, I found that the arrangements for food were made in the very first room. Connected to it was another room which was separated by a curtain. The bed sheets from the bed were folded aside so as use the bed as a dining table. He told that it’s the only room they had and the next section beyond the curtain was a open place they use as kitchen and toilet. To start a conversation, I started discussing about his kids. He told me he has four daughters; 3, 5, 7, 9 years old. To my surprise he was sending all of them to school. One by one he called all his daughters and asked them to read me a poem or a passage from their books, and they pretty well did. I could just see the pride on his face. I was sold; my heart was just immensely full of respect for this guy. During all this time my friend was eagerly waiting for the food to come as I could clearly see on his face. I don’t blame him; it was around 9 pm already. After a while the food came which was obviously delicious, as he being a cook. We ate till our hands got tired and finally ended the dinner with some ginger tea.
It was time for us to leave now. He walked us to the place from where he picked up. He hugged both of us strongly and told how much it meant to him that we called him a brother. During my way back to home I was shocked, surprised and in fact impressed by what has just happened. I was thinking about the people I have seen till now, I mean rich people but with a feeble heart to respect and love other people around them. Generosity is a gift which is independent of riches. I met a king today and he proved it straight and square.