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God's own man

india Updated: Jun 11, 2012 00:26 IST
Girish Bhandari
Girish Bhandari
Hindustan Times
Girish Bhandari

He was there always but no one knew his real name or how old he was. We called him Dhaniya and always found him dancing in abandon like a dervish drunk in ecstasy.

He was a sight --- arms flailing, his staff stretched, tattered clothes swishing in the strong winds. He always wore a khaki shirt and a khaki trouser, long past their 'use by' date.

I never saw him wearing a sweater, even when it had snowed. He danced when it poured; he danced when the sun bore down fiercely. He danced when the clouds lifted over the snow peaks.

He danced when someone was born and he danced when someone passed away! He was often berated when he danced on hearing the news of someone's death. People thought he was a madman bereft of all human sensibilities.

But all this changed when a devastating fire took away half the town. He worked day and night to retrieve people's belongings. He had no fear of death. We also learnt much later that he had a large orchard which he had sold and donated the money to be used to set up a school.

When I had grown a little, I asked him why he danced even on hearing sad news. He looked at me with his vacant eyes, which turned sharp suddenly, as if he was trying to find whether my query was innocent or loaded. He had been asked the question many times but had given no reply.

Deciding that my query was sincere, he said, "Look, birth and death are a cycle, happenings in a changing world. They have to be accepted with calm. So I am happy at all actions of His. His canvas is wide and deep, and only He knows He paints it and in which colours. Happiness is His nature and I rejoice in all his acts. I dance in His image".

He had a profound impression on me. Was he a Sufi at heart, or a baul in Spirit?