“I have not done my duties to the extent I had the abilities as a son, brother, sister, friend, employee and most importantly as a citizen of this country”, my 97 year old uncle who is admitted in the hospital and assuming his death is round the corner. “I have thought about doing many things. If I would have acted on my thoughts as soon as they arose, I would not have felt guilty about those at this stage of life. I understand now that, Life is just count of honest attempts to do right things not just successful attempts. We fear failure hence never make an attempt and we lose valuable portion of life due to this.”.
I never sat beside an elderly person for so long just listening but uncle summoned me to the hospital as he said he has something important to tell me privately. He is highly regarded by my parents and I also enjoy his company so I left my work early to meet him. Doctors predicted that he will not survive for more than a day. and as his last wish is to speak to me despite speaking may deteriorate his condition, doctors permitted him to speak.
He never started his own family as he was responsible for raising rest of his brothers after my grandfather’s death. He is eldest among 4 bothers and 2 sisters. He loved me more than anybody else. I always took pride about it but this also cost me to pay him visit in every major festivals as he wished to see me often.
Till last 34 years I never understood the meaning of duties but gradually I have started realizing them as I am approaching second half of 30s. So my uncles words are making some sense to me.
“I do not want you to feel the same when you reach at this age son.”, uncle said.
“What should I do for that uncle? I have the responsibility to take care of my family. I am busy earning money for that. It is difficult to find time and do anything for the society other than paying some money to social service organizations.”, I defended.
He said, “Don’t worry about the money just commit that you will dedicate your life attempting to do good for the society without fear or hesitation. I have decided to give all my properties to you. It is enough for you not to worry about money. I will make you legal heir so that you can be the owner of the company that I have built. You will find the legal documents for this at my residence.”
First of all, he lived a very simple life so I do not expect lots when he says about his properties. He calling me at the deathbed to give his property to me for social service sounded little dramatic. But I can not show my interest or disinterest to him as in either way I will be disrespecting his emotions I just said, “As you wish uncle” and got up to touch his feet as he felt I am so special in his view. Then I came and sat beside him. I did not hear anything from him for couple of minutes so I looked at him and he looked still. I touched him and found he was very cold. Fearing him dead, I called nurse and doctor. They declared him dead.
I heard that people go crazy before their death. But I was convinced. I never knew that uncle had a business and something which can be called as property. I snapped that thought out of my mind.
Next 13 days went in rituals and I did all his last rites. I was continuously looking out for the legal documents at his residence although I was convinced that it was just a blabber. I noticed a business card of a lawyer who is from a different city. I thought he might be uncle’s legal consultant. Calling him might give me some clue. So I called him. His name is Vedanga Bhattasali. The response I got was, “this telephone number does not exist”. A number given on a printed business card does not exist is extremely hard to believe. I reviewed the business card once again to find that there is an email address mentioned as well. Vadanga.firstname.lastname@example.org. I immediately wrote one small email to lawyer. Vedanga and in no time my email bounced. This made me believe that I am wasting my time on a bogus card. Then I found some letters at his home. Some of them were containing some scripts for books. I ignored them. One of the letter looked meaningful so I opened it to find that it was from south Africa which addressed my uncle as the president of a publishing company. This was a surprise. So I got to know that now I am owner of a publishing company. Then, I also found some bank statements out of which one gave me a shock. It was difficult for me to believe that I am owner of so much money. There were many other letters which I opened but most of them were useless for me as they were some philosophical exchange of thoughts.
I went on scanning the house more throughout the weekends. I never believed that I will spend so much time of a weekend in searching for money that I have not earned. But a strange kind of curiosity was driving me. I spent the next couple of weekends in reviewing each and everything at his home but had no luck. Finally I thought may be the business card of Mr. Vedanga is the clue.
I decided to meet him at the address mentioned in the card. His residence was somewhere in a remote village of Paschim Banga. I applied for leave and packed my bags.
.. To be continued
– Stray Dog