This blog is no longer being updated. Last post was “Farewell”.
Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Last evening, I saw him again.
I had returned from the university and was munching an apple while looking outside my room’s window. It was a beautiful evening, with the sun going down in the western horizon, and the wind spreading that slight chill, the kind that whispers the arrival of winter. There was nothing unusual on the street — people were walking, cars were passing, the stray dog that wandered around the neighbourhood was doing his (its?) acrobatics. Everything was so normal, and everything was so peaceful.
And then, he came into my view. An old man, must be in his eighties, or at least, late seventies. Dressed in a shalwar qameez, sleeveless sweater, and a pair of jogging shoes, with a walking stick in his left hand. He was walking briskly, with his right, free hand swinging along his side as if he was participating in a drill. His steps were short, but swift, and despite his aging body, his gait was as youthful as could be mine — maybe even more youthful than I can ever manage.
He passed our window and then moved towards the little boundary of bricks made by our opposite-side-of-the-road neighbours to protect their little garden. He stopped, turned towards the road so that I could now see his face, and then sat down on that boundary, placing his walking stick beside him. Watching him through my window, his arms stretched and his wrists resting on his knees, I recalled that that was the same place where I had seen him for the first time.
It was a morning though. He was then accompanied by his wife and his son — at least they looked like as if they were his wife and his son. The son was the very model of obedience and, if I may say, saadat-mandi, with his hands behind his back as he watched his father walk with the help of that walking stick. When the old man decided to take a rest from his I don’t know how long walk and started to sit down on that boundary, the son was lightning fast in extending his arm to help his father maintain the balance. The three of them stayed there conversing about something I couldn’t hear, and finally when the old man caught his breath, they all moved on, the son helping his father once again to rise on his feet.
I have spotted that old man quite often now. Once he was accompanied by a person who looked like his servant. On other times, a teen aged girl was with him, who might be his granddaughter. On more than one occasions, I have seen that old man and that girl sitting on that boundary while I was returning home in our car, and I don’t know why, but I have always felt embarrassed. There was that old man, who was certainly under the delicacy that an old age brings, and he was still ambitious enough to walk around with the help of a walking stick, and there was I, a young man who hadn’t even seen 25 years of his life, and who liked to drive around in his car even if the market he was going to was just a little three streets away.
Last evening, I was watching him through my room’s window, and was recalling everything that I have known about him. It’s rather strange how I have never tried to know who he exactly is, or where he lives. Perhaps, I don’t want to know who he exactly is, or where he lives. Perhaps, just seeing him once or twice in a week is enough for my youthful streaks to get inspired. Perhaps, all I want to know about him is to see him walking briskly with his walking stick, and to see him walk in the company of his wife, his son, his granddaughter, and his servant. Perhaps, they are the real walking sticks that one can ever need in one’s old age. And perhaps, whenever I see him, I silently pray that my old age may not be void of such walking sticks.
And then, that old man rose again, placed his stick on the ground, and propelled himself forward.