Mani noticed a boy outside Kumar’s home. The boy was trying to make a snail climb onto a badam leaf that he seemed to have picked up from nearby.
Mani was amused.
“ Do you not have friends to play with? You are playing with the snail?”
The boy reacted in shock hearing a voice all of a sudden. He had not expected anyone to be there watching him. The adults were all celebrating inside the house and he did not find anything interesting to do.
“I am not playing. I am saving him” The boy beamed with confidence.
“ You are Mani Uncle, right? I have seen you with Daddy in a photo.”
The boy definitely was very smart.
“ Oh.. so you are Arun, Kumar’s son? The last time I saw you, you were a toddler keeping everyone on their toes.” Mani laughed.
While answering to Mani, “ Do you know I am 6 years old now?, Arun called out,
“ Daddy, See Mani uncle has come.”
Kumar was overjoyed to see his friend. It had been over 4 years since the two of them had met. The minute he hugged his friend, Mani knew something was different.
Kumar seemed calm and there was a pleasant smile on his face. Was this his childhood friend who was so naughty and who had turned out to be very rude, never smiling and extremely impatient with everything even after taking up a job and getting married?
Well, it now seemed like something from the past. Mani kept rolling his eyes in disbelief.
“Stop staring at me and wish me Happy Birthday” Kumar chuckled.
“Aah, there you go. I thought you had suddenly grown up.” Mani held his friend in a tight hug wishing him health and happiness.
After the guests departed, the two of them talked about old times while Arun and his mom Savita listened and laughed together.
Kumar joked when Mani still kept staring at him.”I think it’s the silver hairs.Don’t say anything else. Remember it’s my birthday today”
As everyone laughed, Kumar hurriedly got up and ran into the kitchen.With what seemed like a sound of relief, he next walked quickly towards the bedroom. He brought something with him and proceeded in the direction of the kitchen without stopping to talk to anyone. Stopping near the kitchen door, he took out a red electric tape and called out to Savita “ Get me a pair of scissors Savita. Someone has removed the tape from the switch.”
Savita understood why Kumar had panicked. As she helped him put the electric tape on the switch, she explained to Mani, “ There is a bird’s nest just outside the exhaust fan with baby birds in it. We have not used the exhaust fan for months.Thankfully looks like no one has used the switch today too. Maybe they just peeled off the tape. Thankfully, I can see that the baby birds are safe.”
Mani could only ask “ Hey, is it really you? Do you remember how you used to chase all those birds, squirrels and use a slingshot to scare them?”
Kumar smiled. “ It’s all because of you” he said as he took a confused Mani inside the bedroom.
He opened a shelf and took out a bag that looked familiar to Mani.
On the bag was written in Tamil, “ Ella Uyirgalum Inbutru Vazga” meaning “ Let all living beings live in harmony”.
That bag was actually a gift from Mani when Kumar had visited him 3 years ago on his Mom and Dad’s wedding anniversary.
Mani had put up that message on over 300 bags as a goodwill message. He never expected its impact.
“ I started with one small action a day. Looks like it has really worked “ Kumar smiled.
Originally published at http://charukriti.org.