I was standing near the ticket window of the cinema theatre, waiting for it to open. The window had not opened yet and the people, who had come to buy the tickets, were just wandering about - some gazing at the posters, few others were gathered near the popcorn counter, still others were merely strolling around while a handful like me were doing just nothing but waiting under the shade of the trees.
The people had not queued up before the ticket window since there was not much of a crowd and, once it opened, it would have been an easy task to get the tickets.
I was waiting under a tree and thinking of nothing. A few of my relatives had arrived from Kolkata and the tickets were for them. They would be reaching the cinema hall after a nice lunch and just minutes before the film was to be screened. I had been ordered to forsake my lunch, stand in the queue and obtain the tickets. I could have my lunch later.
My tummy had started grumbling and when I said I was thinking of nothing, I had lied. I was, in fact, thinking of food, more food and still more food.
As I was thus engaged in my wonderful meditations, I suddenly found myself face-to-face with a middle-aged man. He seemed to have appeared from nowhere. He came to me with folded hands and touched my feet. This was really embarrassing. The man was many years older than me, and this show of reverence was very disconcerting. Besides, I had never before seen this person in my life. But, to tell you the truth, I was a bit flattered as well.
"Er.....," I said, "have we met before?" I asked.
"No," he replied shortly.
"Then, why this sudden affection?" I wanted to know.
He pointed to my neck.
I was completely lost and did not know what to make of it. What had my neck to do with this sudden burst of worship?
"You have a mole on the neck," he said.
So have I. It is a huge circular mole, jet black and almost an inch in diameter on the right side of the neck.
"It is a good sign," he said.
"It is just a mole and nothing else," I said aghast at this superstition.
"Shut up, you don't understand anything," the man said and left after another round of feet-touching.
I was dumb-struck. Here comes a man with folded arms and touches my feet and then tells me to shut up! I touched the mole - it was the object of all the adulation. I, as a person, deserved no respect.
The ticket window had opened. I joined the queue to purchase the tickets.
I was on my way to the office on my faithful motorcycle when I saw a collegian signalling me for a lift. The college was on the way to my office and I had no problem in offering the lift.
Moreover, I was so impressed by the young man's politeness that if his college had not been on the way, I would still have dropped him even if it had caused me a little inconvenience.
The young man had a benign smile on his lips and when I stopped by him, he requested with all politeness, "Sir, I am getting late for college and it would be really nice of you if you could drop me."
Now tell me who would not melt under the impact of such polite words. I had become absolutely malleable and I told him with all geniality to hop over and make himself comfortable as my pillion passenger.
The young man dutifully obeyed.
It was just a few kilometres and hardly ten minutes of drive. When we neared the college, the young man patted me on the back (not the gentle tap of a friend, mind you!) and said rather rudely, "Hey you, here is where I get down. Stop."
I was astonished by this sudden change in his behaviour.
I brought the motorcycle to a halt. The young man alighted and walked away brusquely without even thanking me.
Then it slowly dawned upon me that the politeness was all a show and it was a thing to be cast off once the work is done.
The behaviour hurt me but the funny side of the situation also made me smile. If the same young man had met me another time and requested to be dropped, I would never have offered him a lift ever again even if he had an all important examination. Of course, I never came across him again.
Free bicycle ride
Those were the days of the bicycles, and these faithful two-wheeler were the preferred mode of transport for people like me who lacked finances to own a motorized vehicle.
My slender blue-coloured BSA was my constant companion. I would envy the people who whizzed past me on their scooters or motorcycles while I pedaled along. Of course there were many others who trudged along on their two legs and I felt sure they were envious of me.
Anyway, one day I was returning home from the market when I came across a stocky man who requested a lift. A lift on a bicycle!
The ride was uphill and I did not relish the thought of carrying someone. It would have been very very laborious. But, having been in the Boy Scouts during my childhood, I decided to perform my kind act of the day.
I told him to perch himself on the bicycle carrier. He did not need a second invitation and at once jumped onto the carrier. The carrier was quite slender and I was afraid it would break under the man's weight, but it held on.
It was a tough ride. I panted and panted as I pedaled uphill but my pillion rider was oblivious to my discomfort and sat pretty on the carrier. Never once did he offer to get down for a while and switch sides.
I was getting angrier and angrier and wanted to tell him to start walking. But having offered him a ride voluntarily, I did not have the heart to tell him to get down.
Having laboriously pedaled for a few hundred metres, I saw a friend walking along the road. I had not met him for quite a while and this chance meeting was really a happy moment. I wished to walk the rest of the way along with my friend.
When I reached by my friend's side, I explained the situation to the pillion rider and asked him to walk the rest of the distance. But he refused to get down!
"You had promised to carry me through the whole distance and you must keep your promise," he retorted and refused to budge from his perch.
I was taken aback. This was my bicycle. It was I who was giving him a free ride. I was doing him a favour but he had taken it as his right!
My friend and I, therefore, had to forget our "good act of the day" and we forcibly removed him from the carrier.
The man went away muttering to himself and abusing us. Well, so much for my act of kindness!