(The beautiful flowers for Ponga from the little gang)
Once upon a time, a man named Ponga lived in my town. He was 5 feet tall and had dark brown hair. Nobody knew what was his real name or nobody had paid attention to know his real name. Ponga was nobody for everybody, but everybody was so important to him. He was an innocent and kind soul. Most people thought he was just an insane or freak. Ponga never went to school because of a speech impairment due to stutter. However, he was just a simple man who believed in honesty and hard work. He was born into the wealthiest family of our town. His father was a well-known landlord and a wise man. I never saw his father but had heard about him from my uncle. According to my uncle, Ponga was just a child when his mother and younger brother had disappeared, which had become a mystery of cold cases.
Ponga was loyal and royal. He was an honest man. However, Ponga became homeless and landless immediately after his father died. His royalty had gone, but it could not impact his honesty and loyalty. His relatives took away all his property. Ponga refused to become a beggar. So, my mother had given him shelter and food, which he paid doing some chores for her.
He had a great sense of humor. He was a very loyal person to my family. Well, he did not let us do anything in the absence of my mother, which was proof of his loyalty. It was hard to bribe him. But we always found something to blackmail him, thus he still allowed us to do everything. He always scared of our little gang. We knew that he would tell my mother everything as she returned home.
Ponga often delivered a hot lunch to me while I was in a school. Ponga was also full of surprises. He was capable of changing his personality. In other words, he knew how to flow with the society. He had supported terrorists, and he also had supported law enforcement. I had seen him with short curly hair like a movie actor. After a couple of months, I had found him dressed as a religious person. He was loyal to the people who cared about him.
Ponga had a problem hiding things, so nobody shared secrets with him. I was known as a brat child and never liked Ponga because he would not let me play, especially with the boys. He always told me, “I will tell your mother that you spent your day playing Volleyball with the boys instead of studying”. Of course, he always told my mother everything. It was not surprising for anybody how my mother got information about the entire town without stepping out of the home.
He knew what was happening in everybody’s house, but nobody ever knew what was happening in his life. Ponga had an intel report of everybody in the town. He knew who
is doing what and why. That is why we often called him a ‘mobile newspaper’. I had got into big trouble many times due to his intel report or his habit of being loyal to my family. It was kinda thing, “tell Ponga if you need to spread the word.”
He was a kind man, but he did not hesitate to make everything bigger either when it come to the children. Somehow, he hated the children. All the children did not like him at all. He did not like the children either. He often called us as little demons or pesticides. We were also not very nice to him. Many times, we made him walk many miles. One time, my cousin and I picked him up and threw him at another side of the fence. It was our mistake. He told my mother, “all those brat kids had beaten me first before throwing me over the wall.” I was like,” seriously, Ponga, we just had thrown you another side of the wall.” My mother always told us to ask for forgiveness from him, which he enjoyed a lot. you could have seen the happiness of his face when children asked for apologies from him.
As I said, he refused to beg, so he did not mind cleaning the dishes or doing chores for others. My mother always had a soft corner for him. She used to say, “his relatives have robbed him, so we must help him.”
Ponga used to disappear for weeks without telling anybody. He liked going to the Sikh temples. Who would have care about him? He did not have a family, but everybody in the town was his family. Once, he disappeared for more than a month, which was unusual. So, my mother sent us to summon him. We looked at him everywhere where he could be, but we could not find him. One day, he was found at somebody’s farmhouse almost dead.
There were many rumors about his sickness. Some thought he had sold his kidney while others thought that somebody had harvested his kidney. However, Ponga had taken the secret with him. He lived a few days afterward, and everybody took a turn to take care of him. Everybody contributed to saving him. Ponga was an orphan, but his funeral was like royalty. Everybody went to his funeral. Can you believe it? The little gang also attended his funeral. Many of us cried for him.
All children in our small gang are grown up adults now, and we got busy keeping up with our lives. However, none of us have forgotten him. We still talk about him. He still alive in people’s minds. He had left many tales that we will be passing from one generation to another generation. Ponga was not married and did not have any children. His father had told my uncle, “One day nobody will be left to remember our family.” His father was wrong. Everybody still remembers Ponga and his father.