“Bye father,” he whispered.
“You take care son,” I kissed his hot forehead and walked out of the house to the bus stop at the end of the lane.
“Just a thousand more rupees, God! And I can start with his treatment,” I thought.
What ate me more was what he had said yesterday.
“I want to be a writer when I grow up,” he had said in the hospital.
“Of course my son!” I had beamed.
That’s when I realized that he may not even see the next Christmas.
My savings drained out because of his yesterday’s fits. I had to go to work again.
“God save me! Today I have to make thousand rupees at the industry anyhow!”
The bus came trudging along and woke me from my prayers. I climbed on and walked over to my usual seat, clutching the last 8 rupees I had in my fingers.
The conductor came over as soon as I sat down.
“Did you know that man with a French beard? Huge tall guy? Used to always sit behind you in the bus?”
“Yeah, I guess,” I said.
“Well, he left you this about 2 weeks back.”
It was a white page folded about 8 times. Puzzled, I unfolded it, all the while trying to think when I ever spoke to the man.
Dear stranger from the bus,
I see you almost every day. I don’t know if you have noticed me. I see you kissing your ailing son’s forehead before you climb my bus. I see you settle on the same seat and look out of the window with a worried frown.
I sit behind you, watching you. I have seen your tear filled eyes, heard your melancholy sighs. I have heard you talking a hundred times on phone to doctors who refuse to treat your son’s ailment.
I write this letter to you because I know how much you love your son.
I am a rich man. But I am rich only monetarily. My relationships lie in the dumps of poverty. My wife and her relatives are waiting for my last breath to grab hold of my life’s savings. I have been an orphan since childhood. My only child is dead. And today, I am dying.
I have cancer, blood cancer. Death is dangling before my eyes and can strike any day within a month. There is no way out. Believe me, I tried hard. And before dying I want to set things straight. I want to give my money to someone who deserves it.
I want to give my money to you.
Yes you. I want your son to live. I lost my son about 20 years ago but the pain has still not died in my heart. I don’t want the same happening to you. It’s not sympathy my friend. I am doing this because I don’t want another heart breaking like mine, I don’t want another life lost when it can be saved.
I know how hard you work for your son. I know how much pain you go through. You deserve more my friend. Your son deserves more. Let me do this, let this be one good deed I do before I die. Let me do for you what I couldn’t do for my own son.
Death comes to everyone, but it should be avoided if it can be fought. You can fight it; your son can win it. He has a long life to live. Accept this for your son dear stranger. Accept this as a dying man’s last wish.
I have given directions to my bank below. Just reach there. The manager will recognize you.
The traveler behind you
“Conductor!” I said.
“This man, where is he now?”
“I don’t know sir, he hasn’t climbed the bus in the last week.”
I looked at the empty seat behind me. I remembered him. A huge man. I couldn’t believe he was dead. His bank address seemed true enough.
“Does God really exist?” I wondered.
Two hours later I was a rich man. The letter was true. So was all the money.
Miles away in a deserted island a huge man with a French beard was sunbathing. Suddenly his cell phone ‘dinged’ with a message.
“I’m free! The rest of the stolen money is off my hands! Now the police can never find me!” He said.