Once in my childhood when I was reading in class 6 I had been so infatuated with a male singer and dancer who was reading four classes higher in the high school in that same compound that for days I wandered dazed by his performances on the stage during a school annual function. During those  heady days Gandhiji and Buddha, my permanent evergreen heroes, too seemed to lose their high pedestal. That boy occupied the centre stage of my admiration and hero-worship for a full month. I incessantly talked about him and his performances only to one and all around me.

One day at about noon when I was all alone in the hostel kitchen to guard over the cooked food from the depredation of stray dogs and cats for a while in keeping with the request of the cook who had gone to fetch two bucketful of water from a tube well inside the nearby village, to my surprised and disbelieving eyes the very boy, my hero, came to the kitchen and finding none else asked me for a glass of water. I can’t express with what happiness, pride and joy I fetched him that glass of water. I was simultaneously mentally taking notes of his slightest actions, movements, expressions and articulations to spread them to one and all in the school the next day with a view to earn their appreciation and encomium, to see their raised unbelieving eyes and to confirm my claim that I had not only actually met my hero but also fetched him a glass of water with my own hands. I saw that he was wearing dark goggles and from such close range for the first time I discovered that he had puckered cheeks. As he was drinking the glass of water just a foot away from my disbelieving, praising eyes I was overwhelmed with so much love and admiration for him that I felt it was impossible to hold so much feeling without expressing any of that in any manner to him. On an impulse I gave him the gentlest slap on one of his cheeks as I had seen my elders and friends did out of affection and admiration for someone and said, “How superbly you danced and sang that duet that night!” Actually I had wanted to say so many words of praises to him but words failed to come. With others praising him was so natural and effortless. But surprisingly face to face I could manage only these words.  So few and meager and yet I wished those to carry the mountainous praise, appreciation and love in my heart from me to him. He said nothing, finished the glass of water he held with his left hand and with the right hand gave me such a resounding slap on my left cheek with all his might that I recoiled a few feet at its impact till I steadied myself by a wall behind me. Then he glared and grimaced at me and thumped the glass down on my dazed, lifeless hands and left on a huff.

The impact of that slap was very hard on my face and I saw instantly many glowworms flying around my eyes. Yet compared to the impact on my feelings and emotions even that pain was nothing. The sorrow was too deep for tears. For the first time in my life I realized in vivid detail and in such an unforgettable manner that a good singer or a dancer or a writer with the gift of words or an actor or speaker with the gift of the gab may not be a good man also. Ultimately, it became clear to me, that being a good man was the greatest art of all. And also it needed a good man to understand another good man because even good men also sometimes committed mistakes. Forgiving the mistake of the other was also an essential nature of good man. So while steering oneself through the right path, doing no harm to anyone, yet always prepared to make allowance for the other’s mistakes and poor judgments and forgiving him that harmed him; such is the lot of a good man. Therefore, a good man is hard to find in all societies. Therefore instantly Buddha regained his place in my heart which was so recently usurped by just an ordinary man.

Well, anyone of you my readers who has gone through a similar disillusionment he/ she is most welcome to share that experience here. I would love to read it.