Rajiv lived in a rented house. It was a two-floor house. The landlord lived on the ground floor and Rajiv lived on the first floor with his wife Sushma and two daughters Guddi and Chutki. The rent of the house was low, but it was very poorly maintained. Whenever Rajiv talked about the maintenance of the house the landlord said, “you get it repaired and deduct the cost from the rent. ”
Eventually he bought an old house in an alley of Old Delhi. The house had two rooms, a kitchen, a bathroom and a toilet. Next to the house was a narrow platform. There was a small terrace on the top of the building.
By spending a little more money over repairing and painting the house, Rajiv made it worth living.
The location of the apartment was good. School, market, clinic, post office, bus stop and all were close by. Guddi and Chutki got admission in the nearby primary school in class 1 and UKG. Rajiv was posted as the Deputy Post Master at the post office, not very far from his house. He went on duty sometimes by bicycle and sometimes by walk. He could arrive at home in the evening early.
Sushma was complaining that everything was fine, but the neighborhood was not good. One of the reasons why she was saying that was Gabbar and his dog Brownie.
One afternoon when Guddi and Chutki returned home from school they saw a man lying on the platform adjacent to the house. He had covered his face with a handkerchief.
He removed the handkerchief from his face and sat up. His uncombed hair, red eyes, big nose and the black pockmarked face were enough to scare the girls.
Chhutki screamed, “Mommy! “And Slyly stood behind Guddi. Sushma knew it was the time for her daughters to return from school. She ran and opened the door at the voice of Chhutki and found Chhutki and Guddi standing at the door and looking with fear at an ugly man sitting on the platform. On seeing Sushma he got down and walked away. Guddi and Chutki entered the house. Sushma locked the door.
“Who was he, mother?” asked Guddi.
“I don’t know. We will ask papa. ”
Then she went to get food for the girls. After feeding them, she instructed them not to go outside of the house, and lay down on the bed to rest. Most of the children in a particular age prefer to stay around their mother. Shortly the girls flanked Sushma in the bed and they all fell asleep.
Sushma got up after resting a while and was engaged in household work. Girls also got up and started playing with their toys. They heard voices of the children playing outside. Guddi and Chhutki also wished to go outside and play, but still they did not know the neighborhood kids and they remembered the scary man they had seen. So there was no question of going out.
Rajiv came home from work at about a quarter past five. He saw a strange man sitting on the platform adjacent to his house. Rajiv saw the man, but did not react at that time. The platform was not very high. However, a stone step was made to ease the climb. By Stepping on the step Rajiv rang the door bell and shouted out, “Guddi! ”
Hearing the voice of Rajiv and the sound of the doorbell Guddi and Chhutki raced to the door. Sushma followed them. Guddi opened the door. Chhutki clung to Rajiv’s legs. Rajiv took her in his arms.
“Papa, today we saw a boogeyman outside our house. “Chhutki said.
“Yes, Dad, there was a scary man lying on our platform,” Guddi also spoke.
To assure them Rajiv said, “He might be a beggar or a passerby. ”
“But he was really a bit scary,” Sushma backed daughters.
However, by Rajiv’s presence all became relaxed.
On the next day, at dawn when Sushma was sweeping the platform she remembered the scary man. She felt a bit uneasy.
After some time she escorted her daughters to the school. When she came back, she found the same man sitting in the same place he had sat on the previous day. But she did not dare say anything to him. She entered the house and locked the door from inside.
After a while she looked through the window and saw the man was not there. When Guddi and Chutki returned from school Sushma had already opened the door and stood there fearing that man. The man was nowhere in sight then.
In the evening, when Rajiv returned from work, he found a stranger sitting on the platform. The stranger had wrapped a blanket around his torso and was smoking a cigarette with abandon. A brown dog was sitting at his feet. The dog had a red strap around its neck. Seeing Rajiv the dog stood up. The man leaned over and patted the dog on its back. The dog sat down.
Rajiv went a little closer to the man. The dog bounced to the platform and sat beside him.
Rajiv asked him, “Who are you? Why are you sitting here? ”
“I’m Gabbar. This is my place, and I sit here often. Who are you and why are you asking this? ”
Rajiv felt amused and angry as well.
“I am the master of this house along with this platform. “Rajiv said authoritatively.
“Well, your name is?” asked Gabbar.
“Rajiv Swami” Rajiv replied.
Gabbar descended from the platform and said, “Everyone knows this platform as the Gabbar’s place. ”
“Come on, Browny,” he said, looking at the dog.
Then he went away. The dog followed him.
Sushma had heard the voice of Rajiv. She opened the door a little bit and had been listening to the conversation. After Gabbar was gone, she opened the door and Rajiv came inside.
“This guy is a nuisance. Because of him our daughters can not play out, “Sushma said.
“But other children play in his presence, “said Rajeev.
" I’m so scared, “she said.
“I will find out about him from our neighbors,” Rajiv assured.
The next day Rajiv asked Mr Gupta, one of his neighbors about Gabbar. He could only tell he had been seen Gabbar around the neighborhood for two years. There was a Bhairon Dev’s small platform next to the street where Gabbar had camped. He did not speak much and nobody knew who he was and where he came from.
“Has Gabbar did something?” Asked Gupta.
“He often sits on the platform in front of my house. My wife and daughters are afraid of him, “said Rajeev.
“It’s November. Winter has begun. Sunlight comes early to your platform. So he sits there to get some warmth. He sat there earlier also. No need to be afraid of him, he has done no harm to anyone,” Gupta said.
Gupta’s words were assuring enough to reduce Rajiv’s anxiety. He came back home and told Sushma what Gupta had told about Gabbar. She also became less worried.
A few times Rajiv told Gabbar not to sit there. But he continued to sit there. Rajiv gave up to say anything. As the days passed Sushma also stopped bothering about Gabbar. Guddi and Chutki started playing outside with the other children, even in the presence of Gabbar.
Sushma slowly got used to with the presence of Gabbar. Now seeing his frail body, sometime she felt compassion and gave him some food, which he accepted with gratitude. He never asked for anything and never refused to accept. Gabbar shared his food with his dog Browny.Browny also felt loyalty towards Sushma. He did not let an unfamiliar person climbed up the platform.
Winters had passed. It was the month of April and the beginning of summer. Gabbar’s presence on Rajiv’s platform gradually reduced and finally he stopped coming there. Browny was seen hanging out in the street, but not Gabbar.
Sushma now missed Gabbar’s presence sometimes, especially in the evening when children play outside. In the presence of Gabbar and Browny, she was a bit carefree about Chhutki and Guddi playing outside. It felt as if they were playing under an elder’s supervision.
No wonder she thought to herself, “Without talking, one can win the trust by his conduct ”
Such was the trust of Gabbar.