Bhisan Deo had come from a remote village in Bihar to work as a carpenter in Kolkata. In the beginning he worked in a furniture shop and gradually as he gained experience and expertise he quit working for the shop and started taking up contracts with builders as a carpenter for newly constructed houses and flats. It was during this time that he brought his family to stay with him from his village.
He was an honest and religious man. When our house was being built he was the carpenter hired. A diligent worker he never wasted his time and had the habit of making sturdy furniture which would last a few lifetimes.
“Babu, these will remain as it is and your great grandchildren will be able to use them,” he told my father when he made our furniture.
Thus he was called occasionally afterwards when we needed to make certain household items.
One day after work when he was returning home he came across a bundle of notes wrapped in a plastic sheet he found lying on the street. He picked it up and carried it home. He didn’t use the money and contemplated that he would return it if he found anyone looking for it. The bundle was kept in a shelf in his room in the slums. They were poor and their needs were many; most of which could hardly be met. While cleaning the room his wife came across this bundle of notes and used them in purchasing essentials without telling him. When he came back home after a hard day’s work he went to check this bundle and to his utter dismay found it missing. He asked his wife whether she had seen it.
“Yes I found it on the self and used it for buying grocery,” she replied.
“What have you done woman?” he exclaimed in shock. “That’s not my money. I picked it up from the streets.”
“What is there to be so upset? Somebody must have dropped it mistakenly and you don’t know who he is. Maybe he is no longer searching for it,” she answered back nonchalantly.
Bishen Deo became an angst ridden man. His conscience wouldn’t leave him at peace. Neither could he work nor sleep at night properly. This was a sin on his part and God would never forgive him he ruminated. What if the police found him and convicted him for theft. What a shame it would bring to his name. All these thoughts troubled him endlessly.
He came to my father and disclosed what had happened. My father tried to console him and offered to help him by giving the money they used.
“I didn’t count the money in the bundle,” he replied fretfully.
“Don’t worry Bhishan Deo I will give you the money if someone comes looking for it and if you wish you can repay me whenever you’ll be able to,” my father advised him. But his counsels hardly affected him. Bishan Deo became pensive, remorseful and desolate as times went by and everybody who knew him discussed that he had gone out of his mind.