I had posted something on Perverted Minds and deleted it within a day or two. The reason was that I had unknowingly written about a person who is no more and when I realized it I felt bad considering that a dead person deserves no censure and one should let such souls rest in peace whatever be our differences when alive. Another reason is that I don't feel comfortable dealing with topics that harp on the bad side of human nature. There is so much of goodness all around us so why not encourage people with their stories? There are people who suffer in silence and never say a word against anyone. I feel dwarfed when I come in contact with them. I really do. There are others who are at the receiving end of life's blows and yet have a kind word for those around them and spread cheer wherever they go. Why worry about those who according to Dr. Jill Taylor have a bloated up left brain? They are not going to change anyway.
Having said this let me tell you about an aquaintance of mine. I wouldn't be able to give you his name because I don't know it myself. I know him as Telgu Tailor and my friends also know him as such. My first contact with him dates back to the time when I returned with my first born to Jamshedpur. My sister in law had asked him to make a few frocks for my daughter and we both went to collect them. Mild mannered and courteous he made us sit down, his wife offered us a glass of water. When we asked him what his charges were he smiled and said that it was his gift to the new arrival and did not want money. When we insisted on paying him he accepted a token amount of Rs. 2/-. His son was employed in TISCO and he stitched clothes just to keep himself occupied. He really did not need the money he insisted. Our years of association had just begun.
For the next three years he made dresses for my daughters and blouses for us at nominal cost and finally left for Rourkela where his son had landed a better job. We missed him a lot since no tailor could give us the fitting that he gave for our blouses. Within a year he returned with his wife, two daughters and a younger son. It was the usual story of the arrival of a daughter in law and his wife not getting on well with her etc. etc. To be fair to them I must say that the tailor and his wife being a tight lipped couple did not malign the son or DIL. Neighbors came to know of it through the innocent disclosure of the younger son and daughter who were in school. The older daughter was now married. The tailor started taking orders again and we were delighted. He was rather apologetic that he had to charge nearly as per the prevailing market rate. The family lived in the outhouse of TISCO's officer's quarters. I managed to get him quite a few orders from college since his house was on my way and it was easy to give and collect material from him. I'd bring him design books and he'd make beautiful dresses for my daughters. As a rule I never bought ready made dresses for them. Things seemed to be heading in the right direction when disaster struck. His daughter came back to Jamshedpur after the birth of a daughter unable to put up with torture at the hands of her husband and in laws. She had an older son but he was held back in Kharagpur - his mind duly poisoned against the mother.
Life went on with the daughter also taking to sewing clothes. The tailor was his usual composed self but his wife was heart broken and took ill. In the meantime the younger son and daughter continued to study. The daughter often travelled with me to college by share auto and the son came to our block to play with a neighbor's son. The younger daughter got a government job and the family shifted to another part of the town where she was allotted staff quarters and we lost touch once more. In the meanwhile the older daughter was widowed and for the first time I saw the tailor visibly disturbed. She was however offered a job on compassionate grounds and left for Kharagpur.
Years later I met him on my way to college. For the first time I saw him smile. His younger son was now a chartered accountant. The younger daughter had married a colleague of her's and was leading a happily married life. His wife's health was a cause for concern but they now lived in a 3 bedroom flat and had hired a servant to attend to her needs. I asked him if he'd take orders for blouses again because we still coud not find anyone as good as him. He politely refused saying that his son had forbidden him to sit by his sewing machine and wanted him to lead a peaceful retired life. Fair enough I felt and was genuinely happy for him. I wish I could end my narration right here. Unfortunately my story does not have a happy ending.
It was the morning of Republic Day and our tailor went out to fetch milk as usual. On his return he saw a few people standing by his son's car. He peeped in and saw his son lying dead within. He just could not believe what he saw. This could not happen to him he felt. But it had happened and he was at a loss for words. So were we when on hearing of the tragedy we rushed to his place. The boy had been in love with the daughter of the bungalow owner from the days that the family lived in the outhouse and the girl had reciprocated. But her family still considered him as being from a lower class despite the fact that his older brother was well employed and he was himself a chartered accountant. The girl's mother had insulted him with reference to his impoverished past and ignored her daughter's pleas. He had asked his brother to intervene on his behalf and the brother had also arrived from Rourkela with his wife for the purpose. They were to approach the girl's family on the evening of Republic day but the girl's mother hurriedly got her engaged to a boy of her choice on the previous day and told him that there was no need to ask his brother to come over since her daughter was already engaged. No one knew when he left the house and locked himself in his car and committed suicide. A suicide note addressed to his girl friend said it all. There was another note to the SP of Jamshedpur requesting him not to harass the girl or his parents since it was not their fault.
We were speechless. No words could console the bereaved family. Soon after the son's death the mother followed. I thought that our Telgu Tailor would perhaps shift to Rourkela or Kharagpur. A few months later I met him again on my way to a friend's place. He had vacated the house rented by his son and was living all by himself in an one room kitchen unit for a nominal rent. I suggested that he should start stitching again to keep himsel occupied. He smiled and I then realized that one could express not only joy but also sorrow through a smile.
"I stiched clothes to support my family. To give good education to my children. Too many memories were associated with my sewing machine. I cannot bear to go near it." he said.
"Why don't you go to your children?" I asked. "I am sure your elder daughter would be more than happy to support you after all that you've done for her."
"I cannot bear to leave the place where my son grew up." he said "After all, I have only his memories to live by. When I am unable to manage I will have to leave but right now I prefer to stay here."
"Please don't hesitate to let me know if you need help." My words sounded hollow even to my own ears. After all how does one help a person who lives but has no life?
Just out of curiosity I asked "What happened to the girl who caused all this misery?"
"What could she do about my fate? I was destined to lose my son anyway. I only hope that she is happy wherever she is. My son's soul would be pained if she weren't."
I was speechless once more. I was standing in front of magnanimity personified.