Ten years ago if he asked me to lift a chair and bang it on someone's head, I would happily have done it. For him. Only he did not ask me to. He taught me the virtues of being righteous. Of being able to face myself in the mirror.
Yes, yesterday I lifted a liter of sunflower oil from the grocer's.
I was wrong.
I won't repeat it.
If you cannot manage with your monthly allowance, check where you are overspending. You smoke. Quit smoking. I quit smoking and could save a considerable amount. Did not need to go back to shoplifting. Even for fun. The girls continued to lift cards though. They were richer than us. Spoilt. And we have no choice but to eventually marry one of them. If only they looked like Winona Ryder.
He introduced us to jazz. And Hindustani classical. Some raga-based Bengali music too. He cooked for us. Spent on us. We were street urchins. Students. He was the only one with a job. A decent job. I also remember him buying music for us.
And then there were the clueless among us. Clueless about where to go from here. After college.
They all came to him. Some of them found some focus in life. Some even had their future careers moulded by him. His mason hands . . . how many dreams did they build and realize? Countless, I guess. We were parasites. Only he didn't think so. He chose to be a mentor to an entire generation of students in Banaras.
When I met him last Saturday being produced to court, handcuffed like a hardened criminal, I did not know how to react. His wife committed suicide last year and she was a proven schizophrenic. We avoided her for various reasons. She had managed to steal the perpetual smile from his face in the four years she was married to him. And then she chose to nail him for life by taking her own life, leaving a one-year old kid in the other room.
I would have said good riddance, only she did not let him go. Her family filed a murder case against him. And a "harrassment for dowry" case, which is absolutely ridiculous. I know the truth, so do the plaintiffs. Everybody does, probably even the honorable judge.
And his brother has run out of money running from one lawyer to another, being conned at every step in an alien land. The current lawyer is competent, he can probably get him out of this mess, but has quoted an absurd amount.
Dunno really where this is headed. I am now trying to gather some money for the hapless brother, Chhoton. He was silently wiping his tears sitting on a bench the other day. And I was like an apparition, standing there almost invisible, doing nothing to comfort him. Being held back by my cowardice. By strange voices in my head which ask me to stay away.
Where is the other me? Will he emerge soon? He doesn't have much time, though. The next hearing is on July 17. And where will he get all that money from?
I guess its back to being clueless again. Somehow, this time, it is more bleak than ever.