Of compassion, human love
It took place more than two decade ago. But the whole incident still sometimes flashes back in my memory. We, my in-laws and me, were driving down from Kanpur to Mumbai in a Fiat car. It was a long drive, about 1500 kms and we had to take frequent halts en-route. On day 2, we took a lunch halt at a roadside hotel in Dewas, M.P.
We had occupied a table, placed our orders and started waiting for the meals to be prepared and served. The hotel used to charge a fixed rate per thali (plate) which included rotis (bread), daal (pulse), chawal (rice) and salad. Vegetable dishes were charged extra.
After some time, a tall, oldish man in rural attire came in and sat at the table next to us. Our thalis arrived and we started with the meals. I saw, the man next table was whispering something to the waiter in a low voice. The waiter was saying something shaking his head in the negative. The customer was almost pleading but the waiter did not look like agreeing.
Noticing the goings on between them, the Manager/Owner got curious and asked the waiter what the matter was. The waiter said, “Babuji, he is saying, his diet is a bit too heavy, and 5 rotis won’t be enough for him. He says he would not take daal, chawal and salad and wants more extra rotis in their lieu. He says he would eat with salt alone. I’m telling him that can’t be done.”
The Manager looked at the pathetic face of the hungry man for a moment, then he said to the waiter, “Give him all the extra rotis he wants and also give him the usual daal plate.”
The instant expression of relief and gratitude on the old man’s face was a sight to see…unforgettable. After all, isn’t feeding the hungry an act of compassion and human love?
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# Ashok Misra