The whole town now stood painted white in the weak moonlight. The snow-covered trees were bowing to the earth under the load of the ever-increasing snow. It was tough to chalk out the land and the dwellings. Only the light coming out from a window-pane or a door-glass, or the rising smoke from a white chimney gave hint that there stood at the place a house or a shop and not a field, or a fence, or road. Every passing moment , snowflakes flew around the place like butterflies.
The bulgy, spectacled man walked up to the window. The wrinkles on his face shone in the light of the fire that was burning with a crackle in the hearth. The only other noise prevalent was a regular clutter of typewriter coming from the other room. As the man inspected the outside surroundings his face beamed with an evident pride.
How cold and sturdy it was at the other side of the walls of his cozy palace! The cold wind is blowing like a chilly monster. The snow has already engulfed the entire town. How safe and majestic his house is in the face of this numbing and icy cold! Those people there, in those houses, they call him the ‘stingy Scrooge’. Now they will understand the boons of parsimony, when they suffer the pangs of the cold North Winds while he teases them from his warm bed. Why, oh, some houses may not even have fire to cook, let alone fire to warm their cold houses! How poor of them to call him stingy! Actually, they are jealous of his success and wealth. These people, who just keep making merry and even fight over trifles , how will they understand the magic of success? Well, nature does justice. It gives success and wealth to only those who deserve and can handle these. And he was proud to be worthy in the eyes of nature. Yes, nature is just.
Suddenly, he heard a deep voice coming from outside. The voice was on a melodious song. The old man looked out with great curiosity. He was impressed by the tune and the music, though he was not able to figure out the words of the song. Clearly, the song was not in English. But apart from that he was not able to say anything else about the content of the number.
Now, the song rose above the prevalent din of the season, and was the dominant sound in the entire locality. The music was now clearer. Emotions in the song became plainer. The song echoed through the lonely roads and the white trees with great music. It felt as if the emotions in the voice would melt away all of the snow at once. The snowfall, by now, had lost its intensity. The old man looked with great curiosity at the far end of the road from where the voice was coming.
Soon he saw two shadowy figures rising in the far horizon. Though, he could not see them clearly, he knew the song was coming from either one of them. In the faint moonlight he noticed that one of them was using crutches while the other had a stick in his hand. He looked with greater curiosity. As they came on the road, the lamp-post afforded better vision.
Before his very eyes a strange scene was unfolding. He could see clearly see who the singer was , and he also saw that he was blind and was led by the one using crutches. They held each others hand in such a manner that he could sense the deep love between them. The one on crutches played a mouth-organ to give company to the blind singer. The way they played and sang made it certain that the care and love between them was their only solace in this tough world.
He also noticed something else- their attire. It was not any of the typical English attire. They wore, probably white shirts and a strange skirt-like pant. It is strange, the old man thought. But suddenly, perhaps provoked by the expression of pure contentment on their countenances, a different thought hit his mind. Their plaintive song and the warmth between them started annoying him.
His conscience spoke to him: ” Those two folks apparently have nothing- no roof, no warm clothes, no fire in the hearth. But they are happy and content. You have everything that any man can desire, but here you are- haggling with the allegations of your neighbours. They call you ‘friendless Scrooge’. And they taunt you further when you say that there is no one who deserves your friendship. They are all jealous of you, you think. You live on wealth and material things, old man, while those folks live on the strength of their friendship and togetherness. You have everything, but still you are alone in this big palace of yours. They are poor, their house is small but it is brimming with joy and love.”
That was too much. The old man picked up the nearby paper weight and threw it at the window. For an instant the noise of collision gave the old man some peace from the song. The window pane cracked and then broke into pieces.
Hearing the noise, the old man’s secretary who was busy typing in the adjacent room came to the hall and saw his boss red with rage.
” You stupid Cratchit, go and find out who are those beggars singing on the road? Go at once.” The old man shouted at the top of his voice. He then sat on the nearby sofa. He won’t allow anyone to demean him or his success. He is self-sufficient. He does not need anyone. He will even get these two poor folks jailed. No, no! If possible he will get them killed.
Soon the song subsided gradually to silence. The murmur of snowfall and the crackle of fire filled the room again.
His secretary soon came with a laptop in his hand and a puzzled expression on his face.
” What happened, lazy man? Who are they?” The old man said in his gruff voice.
The frightened man put the laptop on the table in front of his boss.
” Sir, I ran down the road and caught up with them, but they wouldn’t listen to me. They were quite busy singing. So I clicked a photo of them back then. Coming back I did an internet search using their photo and the strange words they were singing ‘Chunga men tuje sham sawr‘. But..” The secretary suddenly stopped.
“Speak”, shouted the old man.
” Well, I encountered a very puzzling result of my search. The search result led me to an old Indian film- the two protagonists of which greatly resemble the two beggars. This film titled ‘Dawstie’ came out in 1964. I could not believe my eyes when I saw it first. But it was unavcidable. The strange thing is that the beggars were characters not real people. Fortunately I have got a snippet of that film for you to decide it for yourself.” The secretary then pressed a button on the laptop.
The old man saw the black and white clip and the strange people and places in it. Suddenly he saw a blind man and a lame man walking side by side. They were the same. But it could not be, he thought.
He was going to reproach the secretary for his stupid and illogical research when suddenly the same song filed the entire room rising above the murmur of the snowfall and the crackle of fire. But this time it was not coming from outside. The song was emanating from the laptop in front.
The old man looked with eyes and mouth wide open as he recognised the faces on the screen and the song. Yeah, it was the same song:
“Chahoonga main tujhe saanjh sawere,
Phir bhi kabhi ab naam ko tere,
Aawaaz main na doonga.
Aawaaz main na doonga…“