An Acquaintance

He was an unexpected visitor. I opened the gate and he stepped forward to greet me with a hug. After the hug, he held my hands and waited for me to recognize him. That face seemed familiar and I went down memory lane trying to figure out where had I earlier seen that look.

The freckles on his face answered my question. Suddenly it occurred to me, he was the same guy I had met at the Gaggal Airport. Enroute on a business trip to Delhi, I was a nervous wreck but he was the one who had cheered me up then.

I remembered I had given him my postal address along with a courteous offer to visit me whenever his schedule permitted him. That was two years ago, and now the man in front of me had a complete makeover. His once cleanly shaved face had unkempt hair on it. The cologne he wore had now been replaced with a deep musk fragrance.

I welcomed the man into my house with an evergreen ice-breaker “What brings you here my friend”. From the look on the man’s face, it seemed that he had expected this question. He narrated to me how he was going through hard times and was desperately in need of a job. He explained to me how he needed a friend’s aid to bring himself out of the turmoil and help him settle done in his life.

Just as the man ended with his sad story I frankly told him that keeping in view my financial condition and the small house, I could not cater to a friend’s need at present. On hearing this the man’s face hung in sorrow. He got up to leave but before leaving he asked me for some old newspapers to cover his head if he did not find a place to stay for the night.

I felt really bad for him, but trusting people had never been easy for a businessman like me. Therefore the best I could do was to hand him a bundle of newspapers. Having done so I accompanied him to the gate and bid him farewell. I had already closed the gate when I saw the man returning.

He put his hand through the bars of the gate and on it he held a lottery ticket. He told me how the ticket might have come with the bundle of newspapers I had given him. I folded the ticket in his hand and asked him to keep faith in his luck.

The man murmured something in reply and went his own way. A few days later as I sat on my couch sipping a cup of coffee and going through the Sunday newspaper, my eyes fell on something that gave me a sweet shock!

At the bottom of the paper was the result of the lucky draw and alongside the five crore bonus prize was the picture of the man I had met a few days back. It occurred to me that the unemployed youth had nothing to do except to pray to God to shower his benevolent blessings. The least I could do after having carelessly given my hundred rupee investment for free was to regret the whole day!!!

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