7 AM in morning. I am far away from my native place in small village of south India for official work since last 10 days. I generally wake-up at 10 AM but this village has energetic air which wakes me up at 7. Not only I wake up at 7 but started jogging too which gives me glimpse of sunrise and eventually I started liking it.
I am staying in small and unfortunately small hotel. When I entered in this village, I surprised to see so cleanliness. Later, I came to know that this village is considered most clean village in India and almost zero percent illiteracy. Strange right? More strange is that, all people in this village are so modest.
Village population would not be more than 5000. Beautiful roads, Neem trees on both side of road, street lights, big lake with garden and Shiv temple at corner, school, library, shops in single line with same color and same size signboard, this village got everything which you expect in one ideal village. Every day, I know something new about this village. Yesterday, I came to know that there no pan shop in this village. Here, people believe in healthy life. Population growth rate is in control as they believe in one child. It is so fantastic which gives me a feeling of heaven.
But there is ugly line in this beautiful picture which is one and only one beggar. I have seen him on my first day in village. I was waiting for lunch and he was standing there – nearer to hotel gate – begging for food. He looks mentally disoriented. All hotel visitors getting irritated because of him but hotel staff. Surprisingly, Hotel staff and specifically security guy are very generous towards him. This become like every day ritual. Everyday lunch time, he come to hotel gate, begging for food and leave in some 30 minutes. One day, he left without food but he maintained 30 minutes time which surprised me. More days pass and I become more curious about that beggar. I asked random people about beggar and everyone told me to ask same question to security guy at hotel. Surprised.
Security guy looks like 25 age or something and beggar looks like 40 age or something. There might be some relationship between both of them. God knows but I have decided to know about that beggar and modesty of security guy towards him.
* * * * * * * * * *
I have 2 days remain in this village and so today, I have decided to skip jogging and wanted to know more about that beggar.
“Good Morning, Saab”, Security guard gave me salam as soon as he saw me.
“Good Morning, How are you?” I asked to security
“I am good Saab. Hum ko kya hone wala hain Saab(What can happen to me, Sir)? Sir, if you didn’t visit lake in morning then visit it today. You will see 3 colors in lake – Blue Sky, Green Tree and Red bricks of Temple. It looks fabulous in morning.”
“Hmm, Today I am not going to lake but want to know something about that beggar. Why are you so kind to that beggar?”
“Why are you so interested, Saab?” I can see different light in his eye while asking this question. He might be surprised by sudden question.
“I am little surprise by hotel staff toward mental disoriented beggar. Hotel staff know that visitors getting irritated because of him but still all of you are so kind to him. He begs for 30 minutes only and leaves on exact time whether he gets food or not. I want to know reason behind kindness. I want to know his 30 minutes act. Is he your relative or relative of any hotel staff? I do not think and almost unable to accept that all hotel staff is kind to him”.
“I am very surprise by your observation Saab. But if you want to know about him, you have to hear my story. People say, I am very good story-teller.”
“Why? If you tell me about him, I will give you 100 bucks”, I show him 100 rupee note.
“Saab, muje extra paisa nahi chahiye (I don’t need extra money), I am happy with my hotel salary. If you want to know about him, then you must have to hear story.”
“Ok, I am ready as I don’t have any option”, I surrender and there he started.
“Some 15 years ago, one man came to this small village. I was 10 years old at that time. He was big officer in mobile service provider Company. He has seen garbage, poverty, illiteracy, laziness and superstitious people everywhere. He started to change it from village to village people. He started to spend his every single coin of income for this village like he is caretaker of village. People used to visit him for advice and monetary help. He never said NO to anyone. He started school for kids and night school for elders. It was look like, he spend 9 hours for his employer, 4 hours for sleep and remaining all hours for village. He started water harvesting and farming technology classes. He filled application for better roads, better street lights. we got good roads in 1 year. Within 3 years, he changed view of village and so village people. It looks like garbage converted into diamond.”, security guy stopped for water.
“Wow.. Your story is fantastic… I am impressed.. You are really a good story teller. Now can I know about beggar?”, I got chance to point out at my question.
“I know, but if you want to know about beggar than you have to hear my complete story, do you agree or not?”
“Ok, go ahead with your story”.
“Aakash sir started Yuva Nirman group where he taught us new technology, importance of study, joy of giving and many more. He has not only given literacy knowledge but also gave us meaning of life. He was saying, Education with high moral and ethics will make this world better. He started library in this village and hence we read Gandhi, Swami Vivekanand, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Saraswatichandra, Ravindranath Tagor and so many other great author. He gave us meaning of Bhagavad Gita and Ramayana. He gave us knowledge of Greek ancient poem like Odyssey and Iliad. Today, we have big library in our village with collection of Indian Authors to Foreign Authors”.
“Ohh really, you know epic story and all? Then why are you just security guy. Either you are just telling me some fiction story to impress me or you think I am fool”, I said with smile.
“Once Aakash sir told us, Never measure work or person by his profession. Measure person by his attitude towards work. You must enjoy your work whether it is small or big, easy or difficult. Always do work with ethics and full enjoyment. People in other part of India will ask for grades in education and will try to measure you by grade but in this village, we will measure person by his attitude towards work. He started sport activities like Hockey and Football. He started music classes. He was saying, everyone has to read at-least one good book, has to play at-least one outdoor sport and has to learn at-least one music instrument. We always felt great when he was around. For all children of my age were considering him as idol. He was so modest, so humble and so human. He taught us humanity instead of religion. He made us more human. He was saying, only Humanity will save the world not religion.”
“Is it possible to be so modest, so humble and so human?” I was thinking but he continues his story without stopping.
“During first five years of Aakash sir in this village, we marked 95 % literacy. Don’t you think it’s very difficult to achieve by single person effort?”, Security guy looked at me with some expectation.
“Obviously, it’s very difficult. No one can change complete village in 5 years if you consider garbage, poverty, illiteracy, under development, basic needs issue and many unknown issues. Your story is like fairy tale but If he did so much than why no one in government recognized him and gave award to him?”
“Yes, it looks like fairy tale story but it’s not. State government recognized him and decided to give achievement award for his work. On award distribution day, he lost his mental control during one accident”, tear rolled down from his eyes while saying this.
“What? How?” I started to feel sorry for this village and especially for Aakash.
“Around 100 of people from this village were going to capital with Aakash Sir. I was one of them. Before reaching to capital, our bus met to other bus. Accident was so terrific that all died on the spot except me and Aakash sir. I was saved because Aakash sir held me tightly at the time of accident which saved me to thrown away from window but he lost his control in that act and head heavily collide with window glass. Suddenly roadside people started to remove dead bodies and no one noticed on Aakash sir which resulted in massive blood loss. Doctor declared him as mental disoriented but advised to admit him in mental hospital. People from this village in so much socked. They were crying a lot not because of 98 dead people but because of Aakash sir situation. Finally, People decided that Aakash sir will live with all of us in this village. He treats this village and villager as his own child and now it’s our time to prove.”
“Please don’t tell me, that old man looked like beggar is your Aakash sir”, my throat become tight and looks like I am also crying.
“Yes, He is our Aakash sir”.
“It’s impossible. How god can do that to so humble and so kind person.” tear rolled down from my eyes as well.
“Saab, we cannot change what happened to Aakash sir but we always take care of him. He was used to visit this hotel for lunch before accident and he still acted that way. His outfit gives him beggar look but he is not beggar. He is so human. We are proud of him. After 10 years of that incident, Still we remember each of his words and always work with ethics, enjoy our works, give proper education to each villager and stick with at-least one book-one sport-one instrument rule. We did not ruin his effort and will not be”, he said profoundly.
* * * * * * * * * *
May be, I will not come again here and so I want to see Aakash sir. I want to meet him. I asked Security guy about his place but he didn’t reply and instead, he started crying. “Saab, Aakash sir is no more. God called him this morning. He left us.” I can see respect-love towards Aakash sir in his eyes. Now, I can see respect-love in each villager. They called off for day in village for Aakash sir.
Aakash sir was right, Only humanity will save this world.
!!! Enjoy Reading!!!
Short Story : Beggar or Human by Ujval Shah is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 India License.