Deep within the hustle and bustle of the noisy, vibrant, colourful, and crazy warrens of streets in Madrid lies an ocean of calm. The crowds stop mid-track, their chatter suddenly falls silent, and they forget all their troubles when they see Pablo play his guitar by the roadside. It is not because Pablo is the most talented guitarist in the world, but because almost certainly, he is the most unique. You see, Pablo plays the guitar with a hook extension to his arm, as he lost his right hand long ago…
Pablo was in the prime of his youth, the envy of all red-blooded Spanish men. He was a rock star, the lead guitarist with an upcoming band, and he had a beautiful and vivacious girlfriend in Erika. He was the happiest guy in the world, till that fateful day.
Pablo was walking on the busy intersection of roads opposite the Retiro Park. It was just a normal day, sunny, hot….the perfect day to be out on the streets in Madrid. Suddenly, Pablo heard a sound that didn’t belong there. He quickly turned his head around, and saw an out of control car on the road, veering left and right like a drunken Matador, but moving inexorably towards an old man with a dog who were crossing the road on a green signal.
With no time to think, Pablo’s instincts took over. He jumped over the barricade on the side of the road, and rushed like the wind towards the old man. But in his heart, he knew that he wouldn’t be able to reach on time, he had a chance of saving either the dog or the old man, but not both.
The old man too seemed to have realized this somehow. He thought for less than a second, and then, calmly stood in front of the dog, to act as a barrier between him and the car.
But the car was coming too fast, and Pablo knew that its momentum would be enough to run over the old man as well as the dog. The man’s sacrifice was going to be in vain, unless…
Pablo jumped right in front of the old man, and extended his right arm forward, like a traffic cop, almost as if instructing the car to stop. The car rammed into his upturned hand so hard that Pablo was thrown clear off its path.
Now it was the old man’s turn. The car, already slowed down a bit after hitting Pablo, still managed to run over the old man’s body, but then, just inches away from the dog’s nose, ground to a halt. The dog was safe, his master’s sacrifice, and that of Pablo, had not been in vain.
An year had passed since that day, and Pablo was now just a wrecked, dispirited shadow of his glorious past. He had not only lost his hand that day, but also his will to live. His girlfriend tried to motivate him as much as she could, but then, frustrated with his lack of effort, moved on. He had no savings to speak of, and his career as a guitarist had died a painful death with the loss of his playing hand. He was down in the dumps, but he couldn’t care less. The only bright light left in his listless existence was Manuel, the dog whom he had saved that day, who had adopted him as his own after the death of his master.
Manuel watched his saviour throw his life down the drain, but did not know what to do. He wished he could thank Pablo in some way for saving his life, and for taking care of him even when he was not in a position to look after himself properly. But there was nothing he could do. Slowly, but surely, Pablo was progressing on the road to self-destruction, and no one could save him. And then, one day, Manuel saw it…and yelped with excitement, as he knew that he had found the purpose that Pablo could live for.
He fumbled inside the old sack for a bit, and then, emerged triumphantly, with Pablo’s guitar in his mouth. He quickly rushed to his master with it, and dropped it on the bed next to him, waiting expectantly for a light to shine in his eyes once again as he picked up the guitar and started playing some music.
But Pablo just lay there, looking at the guitar like a zombie. Manuel stared at him pleadingly, with pain in his eyes. Pablo kept looking at the guitar, and finally said, “I appreciate your effort, my boy, but even if I wanted to play it, I couldn’t. I don’t have a hand.”
A week had passed since then, when Pablo woke up to Manuel licking his face sloppily and barking wildly. He got up irritably to shout at the dog when he saw what Manuel had got him- A magazine with an ad for a hooked hand, in which a man was shown performing various complex tasks using the hand . Manuel saw a small spark light up in Pablo’s eyes, but it quickly died out. “I do not have the money to buy it my friend,” said Pablo despondently, “So thanks, but it’s time to let it go.”
But Manuel refused to let it go. He now knew that money was the only stumbling block now. If he could arrange for some money, Pablo was bound to regain his passion for music, and for life back. So getting money was now Manuel’s only priority.
But where was he to get money from?
He tried approaching a Bank for a loan first, but the guards wouldn’t even let him in. He went to a moneylender next, but even he shooed him away. Restaurants, Circuses, Jewelry shops…no one was ready to entertain him, let alone his request.
And then, when Manuel was almost on the verge of giving up on his quest, he found The Pet Cafe.
It was colourful, quirkily decorated with images of various animals, and most importantly, had a sign on its entrance that read- DOGS WELCOME!
So he went in…and it changed his and Pablo’s life completely.
For the Pet Cafe was not just a restaurant, but a training school for pets, where they could master various skills like dancing, music, cooking, sports, and even how to fix a car! And it was all done for free, as a philanthropic act of a billionaire.
Manuel started seeing the different options, and then, saw something that stopped him in his tracks. Yes, it all made sense, this was the one for him, he just KNEW it in his heart!
And exactly one month later, Pablo was on his way to the supermarket to buy some cheap beer when he heard something that brought a spring to his stride. He tried to ignore it, but the sound was just irresistible, and he was drawn towards it like a moth towards fire, or a Punju towards Rajma-Chawal. It was the sound of a crowd’s cheer, of joy, of wonder, of happiness on listening to good music. It was the sound of drums.
Pablo slowly made his way through the massive crowd that was surrounding the drummer. They were going crazy with every beat of the drum, dancing, singing, enraptured with joy. Pablo pushed through them somehow, and was finally greeted with an incredible sight. The drummer was no other than Manuel, HIS Manuel, who was performing on the roadside, and there was a huge bunch of coins in a box in front of him!
Pablo kept staring at him with surprise writ large on his face. Suddenly, Manuel too noticed him, and pausing for a second, nodded towards the money kept on the ground, and then towards the guitar kept on a box next to him. And as the crowd went mad with excitement, Pablo walked up and picked up the guitar once again.