There are some people you come across in life who make a huge influence on you. There is a Mamu I know who sells chicken fry outside a small residential colony in Hyderabad. His wayside bandi is not the most visible thing on the main road nor is he the kind of guy whom you would give a second glance. It is out of pure adventure spirit that I once went to his small bandi to get some chicken for one of the booze parties in the campus. That’s it, I became a fan of his chicken fry! Its probably one of the best things I have had in Hyderabad and that remains true till date. Then as fate had its way, I moved into that same residential colony and his chicken fry became a regular affair for me and my friend who were major poultry fans.
You know how it is, once you buy it from the shop, you’re a customer, twice you’re a customer…everyday you’re his most faithful customer. The bond grew beyond a customer and vendor relationship. I used to chat with him almost on a daily basis and he used to love having a chai and sutta with me. We talked about life, about relations, bikes, religion…the years in his life had taught him many a thing and I started to respect him for that.
He was a man in his early sixties, each day early morning he would start his preparations for the evening. 6 o clock, he is there in front of the colony gate catering to each and every one. There is a small paan shop beside his bandi which he manages at times if not for his son who hasn’t impressed me as much. Rain or shine, Sunday or Monday he is there with his bandi.
On one fine afternoon I met him with 2 big packets in his hand waiting for a rickshaw. As part of the usual socialising I said a hi and asked him whats all the luggage. He said he is off to his hometown for Ramzaan and that there ain’t any chicken for the next couple of days. I wished him an Eid Mubarak. To my astonishment, he put down the bags on the road and gave me a hug and wished me the same, I was quite taken aback at that unusual expression of love, but when I looked into his face after that…It was probably one of the most genuine smiles I have ever seen, it was one of the most genuine hugs I have ever received.
Hardly a day went without greeting him or seeing him on his stool sitting outside the dome and smoking a cigarette. Once when I went back home very late at around 12 in the night, he was there outside packing up. I walked up to him and filled him up on the details of the day over a chai. When I was about to leave, he said “its been weird not greeting you at least once in a day, I have been wondering where you’ve been, now I will call it a day”.
Days passed too soon, the chicken had grown on me and Mamu had become an inevitable part of Hyderabad, but life has to go on. I got a new job (Yes, again!!!) and the commute was too much for me to handle. Finally one fine day I bade farewell to good old Gulmohar Park, my lovely penthouse and above all...the toughest, Mamu. I shifted on August 1st and that evening is not something I would forget so easily…Mamu had a sober yet smiling face and he offered me some chicken to munch on the way. He blessed me and said “Har ek ko apne zimmedariyon ka khayal rakhna hain aur bus jeete jaana hai…”
I am penning this more than a month from that day…I miss that old man with a smile on his face each and every moment. Life has not been very good to him unlike to many of us, but he never had a smirk on him. He reaffirmed my faith in people and my faith in humanity.
I have not posted anything for long, and this is my 50th post, not a huge number, but a mark for me. This is a dedication to Chand Pasha a.k.a My Chicken Mamu, one of the finest people I have met in my life. Thank God, I had time to chat with him, have a chai with him, eat his wonderful chicken and to have met him.