In life’s encounter, there are certain instances in which you come across someone who leaves behind an indelible print in our hearts and it has nothing to do with blood ties or with the amount of time you have spent with them or with riches, butit has everything to do withlove and its immense potential to transform loves.
My mother who single-handedly raise two of us siblings had a tough time balancing home and work without any family support. There were time our school had holidays while she had to report to work or she had to run around for various errands while we had to be left behind at home, so she would quietly lock the front door and let us do our fill of mischief inside. But two kids both under ten years can be a lethal cocktail, if left unsupervised. So, quite frequently we would get into fisticuffs and hair pulling marathons (fortunately, we loved each other too much to hurt each other with malice or with severity).However during one such scuffle, we heard a robust voice from the other side of the window which opened on the road (our house was situated on the ground floor) admonishing us and threatening us with dire consequences if we did not stop immediately.
We peeped outside to find the pharmacist across the street who had newly set up his store in our locality. A pleasant, genial man, his store became the hub of all discussion by the elderly in our locality and this man, soon gained favour from one and all for his knowledge and empathy.
But for us, it was something beyond. It was a tug of heart which was inexplicable. We lost our father at a young age and somehow this man sensed that void and went about filling up the worst of that vacuum without doing anything spectacular. He did not even come to our homes unless one of us was seriously ill and needed to be checked or for one of those tetanus shots, which we frequently felt the need of.
His specialty laid in doing the most trivial things,as if it was no big deal, since my mother was high on self-respect and would have declined any assistance, had he offered so. So, he went about making our lives infinitely better with an angel’s touch, offering us peanuts on cold winter evenings, making us sure we never ran short of any medicines that we might require, enquiring us about the progress of our studies, reprimanding my elder brother whenever he tried to ride one of the two wheelers of his friend without adequate protection, basically ensuring we stay on track and kept hovering over us like a Guardian angel.
As long as the light of his pharmacy was turned on we knew we were in safe zone. We could return from anywhere and ask for change from him to pay off the fare without even realizing that it was assistance of any kind, ask him to come along with us if the place was too far off or not very secured. There would never be a ‘no’. He would take us to his home to meet his family and kids during the vacations and ensure we had the best of times during those occasions.
It was not till a long, long time since we became adults that we realized that all those things he did for us was a gift, a rare gift and we were blessed by his touch of magnanimity. ‘Compounder Uncle’, as we called him, came closest to knowing how having a father felt like.