Take time to smell the flowers by the roadside.Life may not give you a chance to come back on the same road again ~ Aahang
I am old.He mused as he looked at his shriveled hands with blue green veins staring out of the flesh devoid bones. They resembled the passage of time that had taken him from a little child running in barley fields to this self inflicted confinement of a metro sky rise.Time flies he knew but for him it had flown with neck breaking speed only to get exhausted of all its swiftness.It stood still before him like a sentry- not allowing him the safe passage to the unknown.
No more money no more friends untill this other kingdom seemed by far the best…echoed Jim Morrison’s poem and a crooked smile flashed upon his face.
It was time for the morning walk.Yes walk. That’s all that he could manage and he hated all the youngsters who could run and jog. But before that he had to make himself some tea that would keep him warm in the breezy Bangalore morning. Liberation has given way to medication he scoffed as he popped up the pills for his BP,Sugar etc.He put on his Jacket,his walking shoes and his cap and picked up the walking stick to complete the picture.He glanced at the wall clock.It was 5:30 AM.Time to begin another day that will repeat itself to boredom.There was a time when he woke up at 8:30 in the morning and felt so fresh when he started work with a cup of coffee .He had always promised himself to start early those days and now that he was fulfilling it he was not sure he felt exactly good about it.Sleep eluded him and Alprax with impunity now, leaving little choice but to start the day early.
On the way back he stopped by the temple.Just to say hello.His relationship with the divine had matured over time ,that’s how he wanted to think about it.Initially he was indifferent to the one who made all creatures great and small ,then he could feel the presence of an invisible force that guided his life and finally God was just a friend who had perhaps grown old with him.He felt that by now both have had enough of each other.When something good happened God got all the credit and when things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to be it was his fault.That’s why it was just a Hello now.He was wanted shake the old habit, the idea of having a companion but the habit was old , as old as himself.
Since Rukmani his wife of 60 years had died the responsibility of keeping things moving around the house had become his.His relationship with his wife had run the cycle that was exactly the opposite to the one he shared with God.He began by thinking of her as a companion or a friend as theirs was an arranged marriage, grew fond of her and deeply felt that her presence did give a meaning and stability to his life but finally he became indifferent to her.His wife was a slice out of what the world had offered him on his 80 year journey and as he kept loosing interest in one thing after the other his wife too became and object rather than a being.
As he walked back the sun had started to come up soaking up the nip in the December Bangalore air.The school buses began to show up at every nook and corner with their shiny happy occupants full of life,cheer and promise.He could see faces half asleep and freshly washed from behind the window glasses.A tiny hand would sometime show up and wave bringing a magical smile on the face that had come to see the kid off.This was one of the highlights of his day swelling up his heart with the warmth that had give him the hope and reason to raise his children.
He had chosen to stay alone as he did not get along with his sons.He thought they were too irresponsible and would have been no good had he not built the properties and business in his lifetime.They were chickens running behind their wives and had no guts to stand tall like him.Life therefore ran like a time table for him repeating itself in the same monotonous drudge each day.He would pick up the newspaper as he stepped into his flat and go through its contents that spoke of all the shame that one man had being doing to the other and then as he sipped his ginger tea he would have a quick run through the channels to make sure nothing interesting was on.He did like to explore the world through the episodes on Discovery and National geographic but some time back he saw a pattern and started loosing interest.Still they were the best bet anytime.
After the light breakfast of fruits and Museli he dressed up to go out.Yes he ventured everyday to the banks , government offices and hospitals to keep himself occupied. In the beginning he despised the look on the faces of clerks and hospital staff but now he almost enjoyed their frustration.He had found out new and ingenious ways of doing things in the most complicated and time taking manner.Time was all he had and if it was running out he had not been told about the quantum left to his credit was his argument.He believed that by now his area of influence would have come to terms with him- agreeing to play along till the game was over.He read the ” how are you sir’ as ” Are you still there sir” and that had made all the difference.
Usually he would settle down for an afternoon nap to wake up in time for the evening tea and stroll but today was a bit different.He had this deep sense of nagging , a sense of missing something that made him feel hollow, a feeling that his time had come.He closed his eyes and took a deep breath to bring back the urge to continue.He was unsuccessful. Hope was the dope he was running out of.He could not push the pain any further.This had to be it he thought as he struggled to reach his aspirin pills.
The door bell rang.
He woke up to find that he was in his bed and was sweating profusely.Thankfully there was no pain in the chest.He let the reality sink in and poured himself a glass of water from the nightstand.
It was 5:00 AM in the wall clock in his room which doubled up as his study and his library.For years he had locked himself up after his sundowners just venturing out to grab a quick dinner when everyone in the family has had theirs.For years he had not slept in the same room as his wife and for years he had not bothered to ask his kids how they were doing.He believed that he enjoyed his own company and it kind of prepared him for the final journey when he will be all by himself. He was not exactly spiritual but reveling in his own self gave him a sense of gratification.
He realized now that he was wrong. For the sake of being alone he had become lonely. The words from Jim’s poem haunted him :
Do you know how pale and wanton thrillful
Comes death on a strange hour
Unannounced, unplanned for
Like a scaring over-friendly guest you’ve
Brought to bed
Death makes angels of us all
And gives us wings
Where we had shoulders
Smooth as raven’s
The answer came in the last three lines :
I will not go
Prefer a feast of friends
To the giant family.
He got ready for his walk as usual but on his way out he kissed his wife and took a loving look at his kids faces as he ruffled their hair.
They were in deep sleep and looked like angels.