Even the creak of the boots of a girl walking way from me was too loud. The flipping of pages of the books was deafening me. I opened up the zip of my pencil bag. There it was. My favourite orange coloured pencil with a mini eraser on its back. I wanted to underline some important quotes of the book I was going through. My friends always teased me. They called me a "philosopher". I was like the Socrates in my gang of friends. But I loved reading. Books were like a stress buster for me. On that day, I didn't remember the name of the book. I was in the library.
My eyes stopped at a quote. The noise of the graphite of the pencil scratching against the sheets of the book was not at all deafening. It was opening the gates of mind.
"Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor."
I never thought about life in a serious way. But that day was different. The phone on my table started ringing. Destroying all the calmness and peace of my mind and the library. Many eyes were staring at me as if I was a terrorist.
I looked at my phone ignoring all those vampire like scary eyes who were ready to chew me alive.
Europe's eighteen-year-old Sophia lives a very posh life. All thanks to her father, who is the owner of Chelsea football club, Sophia is given every luxury a teenager could ever dream of. She has a horse worth Rs.3crore and travels to school via a helicopter. She is surrounded by bodyguards wherever she goes. What more could a girl want?
I had the Hike messenger on my phone only because I wanted to be aware of the current affairs. But this piece of news was of no use. My brain started working on it.
" What will we do by knowing that some girl of some part of the world is so rich? Why don't you people come up with something that is worth reading? Why always create a hype about the rich people in the world?"
My phone was ringing again. This time it was a call. An urgent one. I walked out of the library. The irritating sound of my shoes was worse than the creak of those boots of that girl. I came to the courtyard. Outside. It was one my friends. She worked as a housekeeper at my office.
Geetha. A woman with a heart as soft as cotton and as strong as a diamond.
"Bhaiya, please help me! I am dead. I can't move. Govind and Rani are in a very bad shape. I don't know what to do. Why is God so cruel with me?"
Never did she sound so worried and helpless. That smile on her face when she used to serve us coffee was filled with some grit and determination I had never seen in anybody. The way she used to take care of all of us at office, like a mother. So protective and caring. I was worried about her.
" Where are you now? I will come as soon as possible. Don't worry! "
"At the Safdarjung hospital. I am in the emergency ward."
I rushed back to the reading room in the library. To my table. At page 38 of the book. I just glanced at another quote thus time.
"There are two types of poor people, those who are poor together and those who are poor alone. The first are the true poor, the others are rich people out of luck."
That quote was a thought-provoking one. The true poor were poor together. They were together. It filled me with optimism.
I clicked a photo of that quote. I grabbed my pencil. Put in my bag. My shoes didn't make noise this time. I went to the librarian.
" Could you please issue this book for me in the evening. I am in a hurry now."
The librarian was a jolly man. The wrinkles on his face were clear. The round glasses resting on his nose and those eyes of his were filled with curiosity. He asked me jokingly.
"Why man? Are you missing any train?"
I was not in a mood of joking. I smiled at him. I could not explain everything to him at that moment.
" Yeah sir! I have to catch this train soon before I miss it."
I was not a son of some billionaire. Nor had I won some lottery. I was not rich. But I was rich enough to help her out. I was someone who had a rich heart.
Coins didn't jingle in my pocket. They jingled in my heart.
I ran out of the office to catch an auto. The road was filled with so many people; beggars on the footpath; busy office going people talking their bosses on the phone; angry mothers scolding their sons and daughters. I waved my hands for an auto. An autowala stopped by the road.
" Safdarjung hospital bhaiya! How much?"
I sat inside. Fifty bucks was too much. From my office to the hospital should have been around 25 bucks only. I knew that these autowalas were also a kind of robbers; thieves who stole in daylight.
I reached the hospital in no time. My phone vibrated this time. The librarian had forwarded me a copy of an e-book ; the book I was going through at the library. I was too preoccupied with a lot of thoughts. I set my phone on the silent mode and put it in my pocket. I didn't go through that e-book.
Ward number 27. There she was. In the bed. Full of injuries. That smile was gone. This time tears were filled in her eyes. The doctor was about to leave the room. I stopped him.
" Doctor! Could you please let me know about the expenses?"
" It is a major backbone fracture. Will cost her around 50000 rupees. Her son is in a critical state. I can't say anything about it. Rani will be fine. She is out of danger."
The doctor left. I sat on the silver stool beside the bed. She looked a me. I felt horrible. I was breaking inside. I couldn't say a word.
" Bhaiya! I can't make you coffee or tea for the next three months. Look at me. I am useless now. I have nothing left."
Her tears. The smell of savlon in the room. The doctor's statement. Her children. Everything was choking me. I couldn't breathe. She continued talking.
" It has been eight years since I have seen him. He had left me long ago for another woman. But bhaiya, he had come to meet me yesterday. My prayers didn't go waste. I was so happy to feel complete again."
I felt better now. Her husband had returned to her after a long time. I was listening patiently. Like a small child.
" Who knew that I was cursed? He gave me everything that day. And he took everything away from me that day."
Geetha was a dedicated worker at out office. She used to do her work very well. A pure heart and a child-like soul is what she had. She earned and collected money little by little for her children. She was an independent woman. No less than any other man on his earth.
That day when her husband had come back, he took away all her jewellery and mortgaged it. And then he disappeared. Vanished into thin air forever.
That is when she was going to the police to lodge a complaint with her children when she met with an accident. I was still listening to her talking incessantly.
" Now, I don't know how I will send my children to school. He has left me again with nothing. I don't even have a backbone to stand up now. I feel tired bhaiya. But my children are my life."
Rani was in a better condition. I went to see her also. Ward number 34. She was a bright student at her school. A fifteen year old girl. She was a girl of perseverance. Just like her mother.
I thought of Sophia at that moment. There was a girl with notes of money to play with and here was a girl who was lying on the bed without a single penny to think about.
I checked my phone again. I had two notifications from the e- book I had got. It was funny.
"When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is."
"A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money."
Oscar Wilde and John Ruskin were contradicting each other. I couldn't laugh. It pinched me. I felt like someone had stabbed me right in my heart.
I put my phone back in my pocket. I saw Geetha on the bed. I wanted that proud smile back on her face. My heart whispered to me.
" Go on! Do something for her! After all 'the true poor are poor together'! They are never alone! "
Geetha looked at me. I tried to console her.
"Don't worry! You are not alone."
I checked my phone again. My boss was calling me. I picked it up.
" Team meeting at 9:00 pm. Be available at that time."
I put my phone back in the pocket of my pant.