Nov 30, 2023
Nov 30, 2023
While gazing at the picture on the sheet of paper Niki strained her mind and shouted, oh; this cannot be the picture of a human being, it has beard and looks like a Muslim. No this cannot be a human being. O.K. then look at this one, I drew it very carefully said Sakina while handing over other sheet of paper to Niki. No,no not at all , he has vermilion on his forehead. He is a Hindu. O.K. then look at this picture, Sakina spread out third sheet of paper in front of Niki. Niki glanced at it casually and yelled at Sakina, ’do you think I am a fool,” he has beard and a turban on his head. He is a Sikh. .Sakina was losing patience she got annoyed and angrily placed another sheet of paper in front of Niki. Look at this suited booted person, you cannot dismiss this like that, Sakina said with confidence. Looking at this picture Niki once more said with remorse, come on how can he be a human being he is an Englishman. After hearing all this Sakina was infuriated and in share sense of disgustment and anger she virtually threw the last sheet of paper at Niki.”O.K. then look at this ,this is the real human being, you are bound to like it.”As soon as Niki looked at the stark naked portrait of a man she burst into laughter, hey aren’t you ashamed, why the hell you made this nude portrait. It may be you ?” At this statement both the sisters bursted into laughter.
Zahoor Sahib was keenly observing this spectacle of his daughters. He was nervous .His arms and legs started shivering in anguish. His nervousness was understood for simple reason that in case his daughters pass on the brush to him, which shape would he give to a human being? It really was a great challenge for him. For an artiste of his stature it was not an ordinary challenge but an acid test of his expertise. He started imagining of the symbols and colours in the so called modern society he would use to paint a humanbeing.His anxiety continued to grow as he saw his daughters approaching him. Zahoor sahib who could imagine and draw any picture in fraction of seconds or minutes started feeling idealess and helpless, as if his mind was blank. Never in his life had he faced such a situation, barren of ideas and symbols. The situation was worst as the challenge had come from his own daughters. He was lost in these very ideas that Masrat’s call made him regain his normal self, ”Hello are you not going to office today? It is already ten O,clock.” she shouted. For Zahoor sahib this call came as a big relief. It helped him wriggle out of an embarrassing situation he might have been put by his daughters. What would have happened otherwise? What shape he would have given to a human being? he pondered, but thanked God. Zahoor sahib stood up quickly, picked his office bag ,sat in his car and started for office. His mind remained occupied with the morning incident, he continued to think on this ,stretched his memory and remembered a similar incident of his childhood.
He must have been six or seven year old then. Had not joined the school. He would routinely go with his childhood friends for a bath in a canal. One day after the bath, perhaps he was much in hurry, he picked up someone else’s clothes from the canal bund, wore these and set for home. While passing through the market place he was stopped by a shopkeeper who angrily shouted at him, ”Are you not ashamed of wearing these batta (Hindu) clothes?, you stupid.”He felt as if he had committed a serious crime. He ran back to the canal but could not find his clothes. Perhaps some other child wore them in exchange. Lost in these very ideas Zahoor sahib lost the balance of his car, he dashed towards the foot path. One old lady walking on that side of road was hit by his car and thrown on road. Zahoor sahib immediately applied brakes, came out of car, lifted the lady in his arms, bundled her into the car and drove straight to the hospital.
At hospital when he was asked name and address of the old lady he was dumb stuck. However, he at once reasoned with himself that in case he revealed truth about the incident, the hospital may not treat the lady, it would result in police case and the lady would die for none of her fault. To save the life of old lady he lied and registered her as his mother, giving his own address. Old lady was taken inside the operation theatre and a demand for blood was sent to Zahoor sahib. Zahoor sahib became worried as his blood group did not match with that of the lady. He requested the hospital authorities to supply blood on payment which they refused. Since the hospital rules permitted blood in exchange only. Time was running out he could not arrange a donor at a short time. In despair and dismay he sat on a chair near the reception counter. His worry became visible on his face. He raised his hands and started praying God for help. While he was in this state of mind a week and frail man sitting on other side of lobby on a bench came quickly near him and stood next to him. “why are you worried sir?” he asked. Zahoor sahib narrated the entire incident to him. The man did not say anything instead he ran towards the counter. There he had a conversation with one staff member, filled up a form and went inside a room.
After about half an hour he returned and stood in front of Zahoor sahib. Zahoor sahib was sitting with closed eyes and arms raised upwards perhaps praying almighty for the old lady. The man touched his shoulder and said,”do not worry your patient is fine.” Zahoor sahib opened his eyes, his face lit up with hope. “But who gave the blood?” He asked with surprise.
“Do not worry about that, go inside and meet the patient.” Saying this the gentleman went back to the same bench he was sitting on earlier.
Zahoor sahib stood up at once, quickly proceeded towards the room. He found the old lady talking to doctors. He could not believe his eyes. He was delighted ,ran towards the lady ,touched her forehead, thanked God and quickly returned to the lobby, went straight to the bench were that person was sitting. However, the bench was vacant. He looked around in the lobby, but that person was seen nowhere. He rushed towards the gate, the lawn, the open space near the road, but in vain. He could not find that person. Disgusted and disappointed he returned to the same bench, looked again in all directions, right, left, front, behind and with great remorse bowed down his head and sat on the bench. After a while when he raised his head towards the wall next to the bench, he saw a poster which read:
One who has no name or identity.
Whom people call by different names.
While living among people remains detached.
While living in the world is unconcerned about worldly affairs.
Devotes life in service of mankind.
Covers his body with robes of nobility and good deeds
Then there was a long space on the poster followed by just two words. He is..........
Zahoor sahib abruptly shouted “Human being” like that donor.
(Translated from Kashmiri by the author)
More by : Dr. Roop Bhat