I Ignored The Old Man In The Park Until He Became My Best Friend: We Had One Thing In Common

Tushar Dang Tushar Dang in Stolen Diaries on 25 June, 2017

I was very little when my parents brought me to the town. From the upper window of my house, I used to peek down on the road daily. I used to see many kids like me walking with some old people wearing turbans on their heads.

I remember the first time I went to the park in the evening, I saw an old person sitting on the bench surrounded with lots of kids. I always used to see him there, on the same bench. He used to bring some candies for the kids in the park, played with them and went back.

One day I was playing with a ball and I kicked it so hard that it hit the old man. I ran to get my ball when I saw him coming towards me. He had my ball in his hands. He offered me a candy but I ran away from there.

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Next day he again came to me and this time he asked me for my name. I stood quiet like a snowman without any answer to his question. But suddenly my mom standing near me said “Suraj”. He smiled and spoke out, “So my son Suraj, do you know the meaning of Suraj?” I replied quietly “Sun”.

“Very good! My son”, he appreciated and again asked, “Tell me Suraj, why did you run away yesterday when I asked you for the candy?”. I told him my mother taught me not to take anything from strangers. He laughed loudly, came near me, and asked me for a hand shake and said, “Now, we are friends not strangers.”

Within some days, we became good friends. When the clock hand struck 6 every evening, I used to run to the park to meet my new friend in the town. One day, he told me that he watched me daily, he observed me when I peeped from my window. He asked me the reason for such sadness in my eyes.

He again asked “Is there any problem my son? You can share it with me!” I replied “My grandpa died few months ago and then we came to the town, I am missing him and when I see anybody wearing white kurta and a turban on his head, I remember the moments I spent with him.”
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He hugged me with affection and with a beautiful smile on his face he started telling me his story. He said that he was just about to come into this world when his father left home with his mother because of some family issues. They all settled in the town. “Around 12 years had passed Suraj”; he stopped and after a while continued his story.

“I was in my school, sitting with my best friend. Everyone was excited and waiting for the bell to ring as it was the last day before vacations. Being the last period of the day, our class teacher was explaining the holiday homework but nobody was interested in listening to her.

Bell rang and we all ran like prisoners who were freed from a prison. When I reached the main gate of my school, I saw my best friend hugging someone. He was an old man wearing kurta, had a wrinkled face with white heavy moustaches. My friend Satyapal called me and introduced me to that old person. He said, “This is his grandpa, and grandpa he is my best friend Bhuvan”.

I asked him a very silly question after that, “Who is grandpa?” That old guy gave me a very strange smile and suddenly he laughed and asked me, “Oh! My dear Bhuvan, you don’t know about Grandpa? Don’t you have your grandpa?”

Satyapal started laughing at me and shouted, “You must be kidding, Bhuvan.” I replied gently “I really don’t know about grandpa, please tell me”. At this the old guy held me in his hands and said “Grandpa means the father of your father”. Our conversation ended and I went back to my bus still thinking about what that old person had said.

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When I reached home, I threw my bag on the floor and asked my mom “Where is my grandpa?” My mother was surprised but then looked at me in a very calm manner and went towards the store room. She brought an old album and started showing me some black and white photographs and then pointed out an old man saying “Bhuvan he is your grandpa”.

I wondered about him and asked, “Where is he now, and why is he not here with us?” But my mother, after a lapse of silence, told me to ask my father. When my father returned from work, I asked him, “Papa where is my grandpa? Mom didn’t tell me, please tell me where is he?”

My father looked at my mom and then replied he is in the village. Being a very curious child, I asked a lot of questions. “Where is our village? Why does he not stay with us? Can we go meet him?”and the urge to see him fell upon me.

He replied, “No we can’t go”, but I asked “Why?” He didn’t answer and ordered me to go back to my room. I cried a lot and went back to my room.

Next day I saw him talking to grandpa on the telephone. Actually, grandpa was not well and he wanted to meet me. After a long conversation, he put the receiver down and asked me to pack my bags to meet my grandpa.

The very next day, we left for our village in the train to Ratanpur, a small village in Uttar Pradesh. We reached there after a long journey of 9 hours. I was very excited throughout the journey, and when we put first steps at Ratanpur, I saw the whole village was there to receive us with Dhol and Baaja.

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Among them, I saw a man standing quietly in the crowd with watery eyes and deep smile on his face, and that was my grandpa. My dad who was holding my hand took me towards him. He couldn't stop crying.

He started kissing me on my head and cheeks to express his love for me. Then we all went to our huge home where my father was born. I saw big farms all around with lots of cattle and crops. Kids were climbing up the trees and playing near the river. He also showed me his land and the areas where my father used to play during his childhood days.

Finally, we reached our home where there were a lot of family members to welcome us with a pooja thali. I met every one, badi bua, bade tawji, chacha ji and his wife and also my elder brother and sister. They were all very happy to see us, and one by one took me in their arms like I was a teddy bear. Then grandpa came to me, and carried me on his shoulder to show me around. Small memories of my father were attached to every room of the house.

Next day, in the morning after a delicious breakfast, he asked me to come along with him for a round of the village to get familiar with the working style of the villagers.

He made me sit in the front of his bicycle and then drove it for a round; I met a lot of my grandfather’s friends on the way. In the evening, we went to a pond near the village, we sat there and he told me stories and interesting incidents of his life and of the village.

I slept next to him every day, and he told me stories of fairies and demons. Around two weeks passed in the village and we were enjoying like a happy family.

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But one morning an unexpected thing happened. I woke up, but my grandpa did not. I called him lots of times but he didn’t reply even once. Everyone in the village was crying and the whole environment was silent and I had to accept that I had lost my new best friend forever.

I realized that there was no one to sit near the pond with me anymore and share the stories of the village. My best friend had left me alone forever. In the evening, I went to the same pond alone and found a letter near the bench written by grandpa in which he had written,

“I enjoyed each and every moment with you. My life felt complete the moment I hugged you and kissed you on the day of your arrival. I shared my entire life with you in the last fifteen days. Bhuvan Bachhe! You completed my life and thanks for being with me in the last days of my life. I am going far away from you all but I will always be there in your heart. I am always with you my best friend and may god give you my age.”

After a week, we came back to our town, and you know what Suraj, I used to see other children with their grandpas from my home window, exactly like you.

Suraj, he is not with me but his name is always with me “Bhuvan Pratap Singh”."

After listening to his lovely story, I couldn't stop my tears. He rubbed my eyes and gave me a tight hug. Then we ate ice-cream and went back home. Next evening I was waiting for him to come and play with me, he didn’t come.

After a long wait I went back home. When I reached home I got the shocking news that Bhuvan Pratap Singh was no more. I realised that I had lost my best friend forever.

It was not just Bhuvan’s last walk with his grandpa but it was mine too. Now, I go to the park and sit on the same bench where Bhuvan and I used to sit every day. I know he will not come again, but even though people leave us forever sometimes, they remain in our hearts with every moment we spend with them.