The old man and a flowerIt was seven in the morning. The door was not opened. The very old man who lived alone, generally woke up very early in the morning. He stayed in the flat alone. He was a widower and his children were settled in faraway places. The man who was almost ninety, was very active compared to his age. He brought milk in the morning, carried out other house-hold activites, watched television and read newspapers.
But his work started in the evening. Every evening, he himself taught the children of the adjoining slum. He not only taught them, he used to purchase books, copies and other essential items for those children. He even paid school fees of some of them. His own children used to visit him once in every year, but he was not very attached to them. The residents of the housing society had been habituated to this routine for more than fifteen years or so. The old residents of the housing society knew that the very old man was a top-level officer during his working life. But that had been a quite long time ago.
On that day, the old man did not open the door. The maid-servant and the cook came, rang the bell but got no response. They reported the matter to the office of the housing society. The president of the society came, and in the presence of the police and other residents, broke open the door.
What they had anticipated was true. The old man had left for his heavenly abode at night. They called a physician who gave the death certificate. The president reluctantly contacted the old man's children (afterall overseas calls cost a lot!), but they refused to come at such short notice. They requested the housing society to perform the last rites of the old man and also asked to lock the flat.
The next morning. The residents of the society assembled before the flat. Some of them were angry, some of them were dejected. Wasn't it a nuisance? Couldn't the old man die at least during holidays? How could they miss the office? Everybody happened to have important meeting on that particular day!
The body was kept on the ground. The final journey to the burning ghat was going to commence very soon. Suddenly a breeze blew. There was a 'Kathali Champa' (Ylang Ylang Vine) tree on the compound. The old man had planted it many years ago. A single flower landed just on the old man's feet. The tree, on behalf of the society, paid the last respect to the selfless old man.
The final journey started.