But before the fruit seller say something, the old man again said something in Marathi pointing his fingers into the fruit basket. So I asked "aapko kuchh chahiye…Do you want anything?"
He again made the same gesture. So I asked the fruit seller "Bhaiya…inhe kuchh chahiye to dejiye. Mein paise de dungi"
The fruit seller asked the man what he wanted. The Old man picked up a Custard apple from the basket and showed it to me. I understood.
"How much? I asked the fruit seller. "Madam bis rupaye"...He said. While I was picking Rs 20/- from my wallet the old man in Marathi said something from which I understood "Dus (10)" means he wanted me to pay Rs10/- only.
Anyway I paid the amount. The Old man kept his blessing hand on my head and went away quickly. I returned to the chemist shop, paid the bill and came out.
While I crossed the same fruit seller on my way to home I heard him saying to some people "yeh madam ne paise diye". I looked back and saw around 5-6 people were there.
I went there and asked "what's the matter? One of them said… "Madamji…kya karte hain. Yeh budhhe ko muft ki khane ki aadat padi hai. Waise karod pati hai." (Madam...What are you doing? He has developed a habit of freebies. Otherwise he is a billionaire).
I was irked with the word "budhha" and said "Bhaiya… "budhha" kya kah rahe ho. He is a father figure after all."
However I was confused but more than that I was in hurry. So without any further involvement I returned home.
However that evening I kept thinking about that incident. The most puzzling was "he was karod pati (billionaire) but developed a habit of freebies and asking people for something…how could it be as both are quite contradictory!!!".
The next day with some free time I couldn't prevent myself going to the same place. It's a small market area where one can find all kind of shops.
I straight away asked the fruit seller…"kya baat hai Bhaiya?"
He said the real story. The man is a known face. He stays in nearby society. He has three son, two of them work outside Mumbai. Two daughters are married. One son stays in the same society and a business man. The old man had also a successful business venture before as his livelihood.
He lost his wife to some illness few months back after which he came to stay with his son's family. Losing the spouse at this age had stroked hard on his mind. In short he is mentally disturbed.
Every day in that place around any time he asks anyone to buy him a fruit. It's a routine activity since some days. This thing has made people irritatedion among those people.
Then I asked the fruit seller "Bhaiya…ek tayar custard apple dena jo abhi khane layak ho". I must say by that time same people (those were in previous day... mostly the shop owners or working in any shop) had started noticing me.
The fruit seller gave me a totally ripen custard apple. I paid him and threw the apple hard on the ground. As it was soft and totally ripen so it was totally smashed.
The sudden activity of mine caught many eyes even of passerby. Many of them also started surrounding us.
The confused fruit seller said,"Madam…yeh aapne kya kiya?? Khud ka nuksan kar diya aapne???"
"Sahi bola aapne (You're right)… Mera hi nuksan hai!!..... Insaan ka jivan bhi aisa hi hai bhaiya.
A human being is most wise at old age but most delicate as well. We need to take the best care of them if we want the sweetest thing of their life. We need wisdom to handle certain things in life which comes charitably to us from an old person. A little mishandling makes them vulnerable to be broken off like the custard apple which is a big loss for none other than us.
The sweetest period of life is the Old Age. Our parents are sweetest and wisest when they become old as by that time they've learnt all the life's lessons in the institution of life. But they are most frail at this time as well. We need to take best care of them for our self interest as "wisdom" is an inevitable need of our life.
But ironically fathers in their old age are the most abused and misunderstood species in our normal families by children than mothers who get more sympathy.
I don't know whether the above people understood my point or not and changed their behavior to that old man after that or not.
But I mean to say till you not see the empty chair of your father you cannot realize the pain of not having him anymore. It's really hurting…just ask someone who lost his father recently. Realise the presence of your father and do whatever you can do for him before his absence environs you forever!!!!
A custard apple is sweetest most when it totally ripens!
Similarly, a person is wisest and sweetest and most slender in old age only!
A belated Happy Father's Day!