My neighbour and friend Chandru, is semi mobile following two coronary artery bypass surgeries and a subsequent infarction. He is also highly diabetic and depends on his wife Vimlu and a live-in male nurse Chotu, to help him move around inside the house. His friends help him to go outside to the park and to take a stroll in the garden when the weather permits. He is a great friend and a more generous and warm host is hard to come by. Here is a file photo of Vimlu and Chandru:
When both Vimlu and Chotu have to go out to do something, Chandru when awake, sits on the dining chair at the dining table, which is the nearest piece of furniture as one enters his home. He normally sits there just in case someone comes so that he can open the door without too much trouble, using the other dining chairs and the side table to support him.
What follows is a true story of this indomitable man and his hospitality.
On one occasion when he was sitting at the dining table and having his morning cup of tea, while both Chotu and Vimlu had gone out, the door bell rang and with difficulty he opened the door and found a total stranger greeting him effusively with a “Hello Uncle, how are you?” Chandru, not one to reveal his inability to recognize the man, replied equally warmly and invited the man inside and made him sit at the dining table and insisted that he wait till Chotu came back so that he could join Chandru for a cup of tea. The two chatted for about ten minutes on the weather, Chandru’s health and other matters of great national importance, all the time Chandru showing his impatience with Chotu not returning to give the guest a cup of tea.
Finally, the visitor, gathered enough courage to ask Chandru, where Ranjan was.
Now, for those who do not know who Ranjan is, he is my son.
Chandru and I both stay in a Housing Society with two identical buildings side by side, each flat identical to each other in both the buildings. As you enter the buildings, the ground floor flats on the left side are ours. Nelson, the visitor, instead of entering the building where our home is situated, went in to the other building absentmindedly, and thought that the old man sitting at the dining table was Ranjan’s grandfather. Nelson had heard that my father had moved in with us, but had never met him.
Once, Chandru realized that Nelson had entered the wrong flat, he was most disappointed that the visitor was not a guest to his house, but kept insisting that he stay a while longer and have tea. With difficulty, Nelson extricated himself from that situation and came over to our place, as originally intended and told the story to me.
In the evening, when all of us met at the park, I was stunned to learn that Chandru had not told anything about this adventure to Vimlu. I was furious with him for letting in someone unknown to him and Chandru simply could not understand my anger. I had to explain, that it could have been any one with malafide intentions and Chandru could have been harmed. In his defense, Chandru insisted that he was a good judge of character and saw a well dressed gentleman and let him in without asking him about who he was and who the visitor wanted to see. Had he done so, he would have come to know immediately that the caller was for Ranjan and could have directed him to the right place. Vimlu too was upset and agreed with me.
More embarrassed was poor Nelson who did not quite know how to explain his gaffe. He had been to Goa on holiday and had brought some goodies from there for Ranjan. He was in a hurry to get to work in the morning and made the mistake of entering the wrong building.
Chandru has a heart of gold. All of us know that. He cannot however be so cavalier about letting total strangers into his house particularly when he was alone. Chandru still insists after all this while, that he did the right thing, and I disagree. What do you think?