Every dog has his day!

The popular phrase, ‘every dog has his day’ dates back to the literary days of William Shakespeare, who used it in his famous play, Hamlet. In literal terms, it means that everyone gets a chance eventually, or that everyone is successful at some period in his or her life.

My day came through adversities that seemed impregnable, but in retrospect, I feel a sense of triumph and would like to attribute it to the favourable twist of destiny.

I was 18 years old when I had failed in my Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) exams. I got only 8 marks in mathematics in the public examination. Since then, I never dared cross the street of mathematics. Restlessness engulfed my mind. I then decided to try my luck at becoming a cinema star and so decided to run away from home. I must confess that I stole about ` 200 from my grandmother’s pot and headed for Chennai ( Madras). The first few days went in searching for opportunities in the film industry. During the day I used to make futile attempts at meeting the directors in vain and at nights I used to sleep at the Egmore railway station. As is the slippery nature of money, it soon dried up. So I took shelter in the verandah of an almost abandoned temple in Vadapalani in Kodambakkam, where all the film studios – such as Vijaya Vahini, AVM, Bharani, Vikram and Majestic were located. It was considered a useless remote place within Madras. Of course there was and is a bus stand there, owing to the presence of a temple of the powerful Lord Murugan.

My money vanished in six days. With not a single paisa left in my pocket for food, I went to stay and sleep on the verandah for three days and nights at a stretch. Another person also used to come there to stay. But I used to see him there only at night. We never used to talk to each other. But he might have been observing me.

On the fourth day, he asked me, “Who are you? I have been observing you….. Any problem?” I told him my story. I was not even able to speak as I was very hungry. My mouth had completely dried up. “So you are hungry? Get up.” he commanded, and murmured to himself, “Don’t know why God created us to suffer like this.’’ He took me to a small tea stall on the road side, and took out the money. I could see three one rupee coins. He bought three parathas for two rupees for me, which I ate heartily. He bought one more paratha for himself, paying the balance one rupee left with him. I looked at him, askance. He looked at me affectionately and said, “Sufficient for me. I ate something for lunch. I will get my cooli (wages) for tomorrow evening. Till such time……” I was very touched by his magnanimous gesture. Who was he? Why should he bother about an unknown person, that too, when he himself was starving? He was God to me!

As we were lying down to sleep in the verandah under the moonlight, he introduced himself as Mahadevan. He was a Harijan. He was educated up to SSLC. He had also completed a Teacher’s Training Course. Since he did not get a job he came to Madras in search of a job. He also had some domestic squabbles. He informed me that he worked as a coolie at the renowned Majestic Film Studio where films are regularly shot and he earned a princely sum of seven rupees per week. He asked me to come along with him so that he could get me the same job too.

Dr (Col.) A. Balasubramanian