“May I help you, sir?” he asked.
Nagraj dutifully carried the suitcase to our brand new rooms- our home for the short vacay. With his alacrity, idiosyncratic wide smile, and the glint in his eyes he was certain to leave behind an impeccable mark onto the onlookers mind.
Tall, dark-skinned, with creases around his brow and mouth – clear signs of his strenuous job.
Greeting every guest who arrived at the hotel with his palms firmly pressed together, guiding them to the parking lot and finally, to their furnished and modish rooms. Nagraj was an instant favourite amongst all with his simplicity.
His friendly demure, and distinct attire that almost resembled the Air India logo – Maharaja in many ways. A round face, an outsized moustache curled at the ends ,striped turban with golden zari in-between, he welcomed all from dawn to dusk.
Not a moment of despise or despair to define his plight. In fact, the hotel’s foyer seemed to be synonymous with his presence.
With our fleeting yet enriching trips to the nearby spots and the many times he waved goodbye to my ebullient daughter, he soon turned to be her favourite.
For the length and ardor of his smile never diminished with time regardless of the seasons that drifted by. However, behind that, was a man who had braced it all from the dappled sunlight, incessant rains and fall. He never reasoned the deters and daunts.
A lonely childhood had stifled him from the afflictions and tribulations in his life. He would found refuge of his Pati’s ( grandma) stories. Resting his head on her lap, he transcended into a land of stories and magic where things were beyond logic and rationale. He delved in the magical land for hours and even for days together, the remnants of these stories stayed with him, forever.
Bereavement of his parents deprived him of love from a young age. Under the azure night sky engulfed with innumerable stars he lay over the tender grass; hearkening to the stories untold by the beloved stars. Sharing his experiences, feelings, fears, and his life as a whole , believing that his parents personified the twinkling stars that outshined the darkness around.
Love – the singular force that forges souls, can even bruise and scar them for life. That’s how life is meant to be our strengths; the pillars that make us stand tall are themselves our weaknesses that make us fall.
Nagraj knew the worth of a family- the one he coveted the most. The warm hugs, the unconditional love and an irreplaceable experience of belonging in this lonely world.
That’s the reason he smiled at them, to make them believe they are indeed blessed and worthy, after all!
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