Rahim chacha sat in one corner of the wooden bench outside the tea stall. Each morning, he would be seen sipping tea and sharing the bun offered by the chaiwala, with his faithful dog.
Tea and snacks were earned in return for the old Hindi songs he sang that enticed and entertained a joyous audience. The tea business prospered; chai with chacha’s songs were a hit!
Rahim chacha always carried an old radio- his only soulmate.
“His voice is soulful, magical. Who’s he?” An onlooker asked.
“He’s been here for the past one year.” The chaiwala replied. “Nobody knows where he is from. But daily he sings for us and then roams around aimlessly. He never accepts money; only food for himself and the dog. Some say he lost his only son in a bomb blast. Since then, he’s been quiet and lonely. Poor fellow!”
“What about that dog? I noticed its collar has ‘Hari’ printed on it. Couldn’t be his!” The onlooker remarked.
“He found him wandering around. Now they are best friends. Have you seen him wagging his tail delightfully when chacha sings? He claims they both are Allah ke bande, for their names being synonymous with almighty!”
Musafir hoon yaaron…! He sings dolefully.
A year ago, a dastardly bomb blast had shaken the city killing many innocents. Rahim’s son Abdul was the suicide bomber. Rahim was traumatized.
The police had recovered a broken radio at the blast site, that had been wired with the bomb. It belonged to Rahim, his only solace since his dear wife’s death. He was falsely accused by people for being hand in glove with his son. Devastated, he was forced to vacate his house. A truly God- fearing person, Rahim had always followed what his religion had taught him. Inshallah! His wish we follow. He had accepted his fate and moved to another city with a new radio.
Every night at 10 pm, he would sit under the flyover with his buddy, Hari, tuned in to his favourite channel. The first ten minutes carried news about missing people whose families sent messages to help trace them. Then played old melodies, that drifted him back in time, reminiscing golden moments spent with his wife.
A news jolted him to the present.
“Heartfelt request from the parent of a young autistic boy who has lost his dog and has been restless and despondent since then. The dog’s collar has his name ‘Hari’ imprinted.”
Rahim shut his moist eyes. Fate had played yet another trick. Another cherished one had to part. He patted Hari’s head lovingly. Should he just ignore the news?
The boy rejoiced as he hugged an equally elated Hari.
“Thank you, sir. We got back both our sons today.” The mother smiled.
His selfishness deemed insignificant to the boy’s contented eyes.
Rahim ambled with his only companion. A radio had once claimed lives; a radio now enlivened souls.
Kisi ki muskurahaton pe ho nisaar…
Chaiwala: Person who sells tea
Allah ke bande: God’s fellows
Musafir hoon yaaron: Song from movie ‘Parichay’, year 1972
Inshallah: If God wills it
Kisi ki muskurahaton pe ho nisaar: Song from movie ‘Anari’, year 1959
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