By J M Ovelil
Vincent introduced himself and asked the students to introduce themselves. That went on very well. To start with Vincent used to ask a few thought provoking questions on the subject,
but before he could do that, the students took the upper hand and began to attack him with a series of questions and that too, not one after the other but simultaneously, with great curiosity. Vincent, for the first time in his career as a teacher failed miserably to give them satisfactory answers. The questions were not on mathematics, but from the world of Hindi movies - about Amitab Bachan, Hema Malini, etc. Vincent immediately realised that his knowledge in that subject was zero compared to theirs.
Luckily a sudden flash of memory came to rescue him from that awkward situation. It was an incident of 1968, when Vincent happened to meet Amitab Bachan near the Panjim steamer jetty, when Amitab came down to Goa for the shooting of his first movie ‘Saath Hindustani’ directed by K A Abbas and part of the shooting was in front of the statue of Abe Faria, near the old secretariat. With the narration of that incident Vincent successfully managed to escape from any further questions and he found that his new friends were very co operative and attentive.
After the class, Vincent returned home very happily with his Egyptian friend. There after he had absolutely nothing to worry about his transport and began to enjoy the new life and teaching. Three weeks passed smoothly. Some how or the other there was a thought that was nagging him constantly. “How can I reciprocate Mr Abdulati for his sincere service?” One day during his trip back home as usual, he told his friend, hiding all embarrassment, “Mr Abdulati, you have been very kind to me and I am very grateful to you. Please let me know, how I can repay you for this noble service.”
In his soft and pleasant tone, that Good Samaritan said, “Look, my friend, when I came here, a few years back, I too was like you, didn’t have a car. But some one helped me to come to the college. So when you buy a car, soon you will, Inshallah (God willing), there will be some one like you, needing your help. You can help him. That’s more than enough.”
Vincent was surprised to hear those magnanimous words. Well, that was the first time a piece of advice went deep down into his heart. “I have heard a number of excellent sermons from our preachers, but never like this - practice first and preaching next. You are great indeed,” Vincent said silently and expressed his sincere gratitude to his Egyptian friend. After completing that assignment in the Government College, Vincent joined his college. He did try his best to follow that advice. Within a short time Abdulati was transferred to a far away place and hence Vincent didn’t get an opportunity to meet that good person. After some years of service in Nigeria, Vincent returned to India for good. Although many years passed, Vincent could never forget the unique experience and the advice he had received from Mr Abdulati. It went on echoing in his mind.
30 years passed and one day, Vincent decided to visit Egypt, hoping to meet his old Egyptian friend. But, unfortunately he didn’t have his address. All that he could remember was that Mr Abdulati was from Cairo. Knowing well that his wife would not support his idea, Vincent cleverly planned a tour to Israel and Egypt. His wife was very happy.
After visiting Jerusalem, the historical city of King David, the lake of Galilee, Dead Sea and all the important Christian pilgrim centres, the couple travelled to Egypt by road to have an idea of the places through which the prophet Moses led the people of Israel from 400 years of slavery under the pharaohs. At last Vincent and his wife crossed the Suez Canal through the tunnel beneath it and reached Cairo. In Cairo, Vincent’s first priority was, to meet his friend, rather than visiting the great pyramids or museum. But his wife asked him, “How can you find a person in a big city, without even an address.” But Vincent was optimistic and went all over Cairo searching for a man whom he met 30 years ago and whose whereabouts were unknown. But all his attempts were in vain. Vincent was very disappointed and sad. Finally, he decided to visit the Great Pyramid and other important places in Egypt and return to India. (To be concluded)