Yesterday I heard that a young man I knew had died, 3 months ago. It was a shock.
This young man was somebody who had worked in my house around 5 years back. He was with our family for a little over 3 years. His name was Santosh, which means content or happy. He certainly wasn't a content person. But he was generally a happy person considering his life and circumstances.
Santosh was from Bihar, but had gone to Delhi to his aunt, in search of work. It was from there, thorough a close relation of mine, that he came here, so far away from his home. He was sent to me because I can speak Hindi fairly easily, so that communication with him would not be a problem. When he came to work with me, he was about 19, though he looked around 15 at the most.
He told me that his father had died many years back, and that he had been an alcoholic. He said his mother too died soon after from some illness. He said that his paternal grandparents were also no more. There was just him, a younger brother and a sister, who was being looked after by his maternal grandparents, who continued to live in his village. He said he had drifted through many jobs, from his childhood, including working in a factory somewhere. But it was after a fight with his grandmother that he went away to Delhi.
He was illiterate and I did try to teach him to read Hindi with whatever material I could get. But I wasn't very successful as he seemed to have a learning problem.
all I was able to teach him was to write his name.
Being a happy-go-lucky young man, he wasn't weighed down with any of this. In the 3 years that he was here, he made a number of friends somehow, though the majority of them could not have been able to speak his language. [But then again, here in our state, most literate people can understand some Hindi.] But with his smile and wave, he made friends. Finally, it got to the point where we were known as 'the people from the house where Santosh lives'.
He had his faults, being irresponsible, with no thought of the morrow. I started a bank account for him, mainly so that he would not just fritter away his month's salary. But he was affectionate and when ever a guest came, was the first to ask what they would like to eat and was good at making Bihari food. His aloo parathas were delicious.
His attitude to the law was a little dubious, since he seemed to feel that the law was only for those who couldn't bribe their way out. He used to be quite amazed that we were law-abiding, when, in his opinion, we could just as well have circumvented it. As an example, at that time one of my nephews was not yet 18 and so could not get a driver's license, although he knew how to drive. So, after driving around the hill, (which is private property), he would park the car at our house, before walking down to the road. When Santosh was told that my nephew did this as he wasn't eligible for a license, he was absolutely shocked. 'Why can't he just drive anyway and pay a bribe to the policeman? After all, you people have money.' It took quite a bit of explaining to make him understand that we didn't do things that way in our families.
Anyway, after being away from his home for over 3 years, he wanted to go back to his people and after my sons' weddings, he left, promising to everyone that he would return after 5 or 6 years.
After he went back to Delhi, I heard about him from family that lived there. He drifted in and out of jobs, even going back to work in the fields in his village. But he was back in Delhi and it was there that he died, three months ago, apparently in an accident.
From what he had told me I doubted there was any one to really even mourn him properly. So I felt the least I could do was write about him. May his soul be at peace.