I was walking in the dark road with the flash light from my phone moving front and back as I took my steps, casting incredibly humongous shadow. I had an umbrella in the other hand, and it was power cut, hence the dark road and topping it was the rain giving an entire chill and exhilarating situation. I heard some screeches behind me, it stopped in a moment, and again, there was another one. I was not that scared though( but sure, was a little freaked out). I suddenly turned back to look who it was, flashing the light over that figure.
He was 3/4 of my height, with an umbrella in his hand too, torn at some parts, the silicon clothing was slid up at one link-rod. I couldn’t see his face at first, I bent down to look at him and I asked him,( in native language ofcourse) , what happened and why was he following around? I saw that he had a grey beard and red eyes. Wrinkles on his forehead, with both hands to the right of his slacky cheeks, holding the umbrella, and crunching himself down. He was old, and in his old voice, he asked me if I was walking to the main gate of the university.
I nodded and he signalled me to keep walking. I asked him, if he was tailing me for the light, for which he humbly said, yes. And I asked him to come forward and tread with me. He obliged and came forward. I asked him for his place of stay, for which, he mentioned a nearby village. This is a festive season in the country, Diwali. I asked him if all his purchases of crackers and dresses were done. He replied with an enthusiasm for crackers that they were there at his home. I laughed out aloud, for his excitement to burn crackers at this age. I was intrigued and i asked for his name.
I was enlightened by that gentleman, he claimed his name to be ‘sanglimuthu’. Yeah, it’s an old and complex name but has a really great derived meaning. ‘Sangli’ means ‘chain’, and ‘muthu’ means ‘pearl’, combining to form, ‘The Pearl among Chains’ or so I assumed it to be (accept it, its nice). Anyway, moving on. I enquired about his age, and I was shocked to know that he was 60. I sure expected around 45 or 50. That’s acceptable, but 60? (He would be retired and probably on a world tour, if it was someother job). I could only sympathise, and I asked him what were his plans for the upcoming festival.
He shook me again by his answer, that he would have to take a holiday to celebrate the day with his family. I was grounded, I didn’t verbalise my thoughts to him but by then we were already near the gate and he had people waiting for him, to board the bus. He smiled at me and said, they were his people and he went, but all his words stayed behind. I couldn’t erase that image of him and his age and in such a hardship. I wondered is he really deserved this or was he just doing this to be useful in someway. It was his second year, and he didn’t seem to regret it. But, I pondered how would it be if I had o take permissions and apply for a leave to stay with my beloved ones for a festival, that was sad.
But, I guess I will never know the truth as to why he is forced to do this, or is he really in a forced situation at all. All I can do is speculate. But, I wish, he gets to have fun with his family.
With age, comes wisdom, but for some, with age, returns their childhood.