'Baba', the handsome strapping young man bent down to hold the old man's chapped hands.
'Kaun ho, beta (who are you, son)?' the shabbily dressed man with a scraggly beard and salt and pepper hair asked in a feeble, trembling squeak from his rickety bed.
Roshan Ali had found a petrified young boy bleeding severely from the head. Sammy had been hiding in the shrub outside Roshan Ali's decrepit one-room tenement. Ali comforted the boy with his kind soothing words and helped him get to his feet. He took the limping boy to his house, cleaned and bandaged his wound and then offered him a glass of milk with a pinch of turmeric.
The boy relaxed gradually and confided in the fatherly man. He belonged to a village in Uttar Pradesh. It was the usual story of a life of penury, of an alcoholic father deserting his wife and four young children, mother struggling to fend for her children and falling ill, the eldest son-a twelve year old-beginning work in a dhaba.
A decent looking man lured Sammy to this city with the promise of better work, better wages and an opportunity to study in a night school.
But the big city pounced upon the hapless child to swallow him in its big bad underbelly.
Pickpocketing, thuk thuk gang, thefts, begging....this was an organized gang which operated like a well oiled smooth machine.
Sammy was threatened, beaten blue and black, starved but he refused to comply with the gangsters' orders. In severe pain, he fell on the ground, unconscious. They kicked at the inert boy, but when the boy failed to respond they panicked. They picked up the badly wounded boy and dumped him in a dense shrub.
Despite coming to his senses, Sammy had not dared to come out for a few hours losing more blood in the meanwhile. In the dead of night, Roshan Ali had heard the groans of the boy and rescued him.
The compassionate and caring man sheltered the weak, frail and terrified boy in his house for a few days, then escorted him to his village. Unfortunately, the boy's mother had vanished from the village with his other siblings without any trace.
Roshan Ali who worked as a driver for a corporate hotshot, was a man of limited financial means yet he decided to not leave the young boy to rot in the village like an orphan. He brought him back to his house and took him to a nearby govt school for admission. Without valid legal documents, the school authorities refused to admit the boy. His boss, an amiable philanthropist, was quite perturbed by the young child's miserable tale and promised to find some recourse soon.
Unfortunately, Roshan Ali had a car accident in his disturbed and anxious state of mind and was sentenced to six months in jail. But to his relief, his kindhearted boss took the distraught child legally under his care and flew him abroad on his next assignment.
That was the last Roshan Ali saw or heard of Sammy. Ten years ago.
''Baba, main aapka Sammy (I am your Sammy)! I have come home.... to you. Naresh uncle, my guardian angel, took very good care of me and it is because of his perseverance and your blessings that I was able to study well and get a good job here in India only. We will now stay together, in our house."


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