FAQEERA ( STORY ) Some wounds refuse to fade. The scars are not visible but deep inside they keep on itching in spite of the best efforts one may make to put them behind. This story is in the same genre. Faqeera, yes that is how people called him. He lived on the alms given by the passers-by. He moved around the town collecting banana peels in his bag, hung over his shoulders. He talked to nobody and begged for nothing. He worked like one possessed moving in the lanes and by-lanes of the town, collecting banana peel wherever he found. He could be easily spotted with his torn clothes, lean and thin body, barefoot, shrunken eyes and remorse face. It was difficult to guess his age but he could be in his twenties. No one knew when and where from he came or what was his name. He was spotted about a year back. No one could have bothered much and would have taken him for yet another beggar or rag picker but for the obsession he had with banana peels. Beggars and rag pickers are a common sight and hence do not merit attention in a busy town. They are rather considered a menace. One has to be careful lest someone may steal some value from your house or shop. He was considered to be a mental case and that is all. Beyond this, who had time to go into his history. Faqeera was different. He went about his job meticulously disturbing no one. At the end of the day, he would take his load of banana peels to the dumping ground and settle himself at the town square. It is where some kind-hearted men gave him some eatables on which he survived. He would never touch the coins. Once in a while, the anti-begging squad of the Municipal Corporation would come and round up the beggars but they never touched Faqeera. The mystery was solved when someone saw an advertisement in the News Papers with a photograph resembling Faqeera reading as under: “Dear Pratap, Please return home. No one blames you for the death of your sister. We all miss you. …Mummy/Papa" with a note "Anyone reporting about this man, aged 22 years, medium built, will be suitably rewarded" Suddenly Faqeera transformed into Pratap and became hot news. Police took him in their custody and informed his parents to visit, identify and take him home. His parents came the next day. People were curious to know the story now. This is how the secret of Faqeera unfolded. ‘It happened last year. Pratap and his group of friends were always at some mischief. They would laugh at others’ misery. Many times they were warned but the sadistic pleasure they were getting from these silly acts outweighed all such warnings. One of their pastimes was throwing banana skins and watch if someone would slip over them and they could laugh at his/her expanse. Fortunately, there was not much fast-moving traffic in the street and no serious accident ever occurred. Most of the people who became the victims were neighborhood residents and would move away from a little embarrassed and muttering some abuses. That was all. On that fateful day, they threw the banana skin on the street and stepped aside to watch the fun. There was not much traffic in the street as usual. Smita, Pratap’s sister happened to cross over the street, slipped over the banana skin and as bad luck would have it, a car driven by a youngster at a very high speed approached and in minutes Smita was under the wheels of the screeching car. It happened so quickly that Pratap had no time to warn his sister. People gathered in no time. Smita was badly hurt and was profusely bleeding. She was rushed to the hospital but was declared brought dead. Pratap could never recover from this trauma. He thought he was responsible for the death of his dear sister. He was responsible for the accident. He was responsible for everything that happened. He lost his balance of mind and one day silently left home. His parents were devastated. They had lost their daughter and their son was missing. They tried to locate him and finally put an advertisement in the News Papers. Life plays some sinister games with us. Pratap’s loss was of his own making. Every day there are reports of fatal road accidents and surely some one's mistake becomes the tragedy of somebody else. But when some of our very own are the victim, we become aware of the malady.