An elderly gentleman in a DDA flat community had installed a bulb outside his apartment to light up the staircase. At night, once inside his house, he would switch it off. A young resident in the same building was considering installing bulbs on every floor with two-way switches for people to be able to go up the stairs safely. That evening, the young man stood on the staircase surveying the situation. Just then, the light bulb outside the old man’s flat went off. He emerged from his flat to see what the young man was doing.
“Is the switch for this bulb inside your house?” asked the young man.
“Yes it is…I pay for it,” said the old man with some irritation. The young man was offended. He thought to himself about how India is a place of such small-minded petty people. This would never happen in developed nations. An educated old man, really. He dropped the idea of lighting up the staircase.
In a few months, the old man died. The young man heard the news and immediately his mind went to the story of the light bulb.
“Is he going to take the pennies he saved on the electric bill to his grave?” though the young man with some amount of shame. He shook his head. He visited the relatives in the house that evening. The old man was inside a glass cage. The family sat around. The young man introduced himself and uttered words of condolence. He looked at the old man and prayed for his departed soul. He stood and looked for a while. Then he left.
The other night, the young man came home late at night. He climbed up the stairs. The light outside the house that was right opposite the house of the deceased was lit. The owner was at the doorstep. An old man, in a vest and crumpled pyjama. He looked at the young man, a cold look. Then he went inside, closed the door. The young man was halfway up the staircase and with a click the light went out. The neighbor had switched it off as the young man was mid-stride. He almost tripped and had to catch himself. He clutched the railing and cursed under his breath.


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