Acknowledgement- Sudhir Karandikar
I am a retired person who finds great joy in playing with my grandson. So I make lot of trips to my daughter’s place, usually in the evenings. She stays at the other end of Pune, near Pashan Road. Sometimes I travel there by my own scooter however many times, I prefer going by bus. And for catching the bus while returning back, I have to cross the road.
For those who had seen Pashan Road in the late 80’s and 90’s, crossing this road may seem the simplest task. In those days most of the motorists had not discovered this road; nay, there were not many cars at all.
However now this road is a nightmare for most pedestrians and especially senior citizens like me.
So whenever I have to catch a bus for returning back to my home, I have to wait for a long time to cross the road. It is a routine to wait for a long time, as the cars zip by without giving much of a thought to the plight of senior citizens like me, waiting to cross. And whenever a small window opens up, I take fastest possible strides to cross over to the other side, before another lot of cars come zipping by.
However, one day, the traffic was not letting up and I was just not able to find that minuscule gap in the traffic when I could shuffle across to the other side.
So there I was, feeling quite helpless, cursing my old age as well as the progress made by most Punekars, who were now able to afford more and more cars.
Suddenly I espied a small boy, ambling across the road, sitting on the back of a giant Buffalo, gently poking it to walk faster. He had an excellent way to guide the buffalo to walk in a straight line by poking it behind its ears with his feet, so that the buffalo did not stray into the middle of the road.
Watching this spectacle, I had an Eureka moment!
I called out to the boy to stop. First he ignored, but then curious to know what this grandfather was calling him out for, he stopped.
And within a short while, the giant buffalo was crossing the road, with the boy on top, escorting a grandfather, ambling across.
Ands so friends, I crossed the street successfully inspite of the rushing traffic. After all, which car owner would like to have his car dented by dashing it into a buffalo. And for all the trouble I had put the boy and his buffalo into, I payed him for his services.
Then for some days thereafter I had traveled to meet my grandson by my scooter.
The next time, after almost 15 days, when I had again traveled by bus, I was waiting to cross the road once again in the evening.
And lo! And behold! I saw the same buffalo crossing the road, with a few senior citizens escorting it, coming towards me. As soon as the procession was near me, I could see them paying the boy and then walking away.
As soon as the boy saw me, he waved to me and I waved back at him. He got down from his buffalo, rushed towards a flower shop and within no time, he was again standing in front of me with the widest smile on his face, and a bunch of flowers in his hand.
“Thank you, grandfather. That day you presented me a good opportunity to make extra money. Usually, at the end of a tiring day, I take my buffalo home by this road. I waited for you the next day also to help you cross the road, but you never came”
“But I saw there were other people who were not able to cross the road in heavy traffic. So I asked them and they were too happy with the offer. I was able to help them and in the bargain, made some quick money” so saying, he offered the flowers to me.
“Come. Today my Harya will help you cross the road for free”, so saying he mounted his vehicle, and guided him towards the other side of the road, with me ambling along.
Upon reaching the other end, I offered him money again, but he just smiled and went off with his prized possession!
I read this in Marathi and was inspired to translate