The train to Chandigarh was late again, late by an hour. The busy station of capital was buzzing with restlessness of people who were trying hard to compete with time. Tired, impatient, confused, angry, happy and lost they all were in search of something. The chase was on, the destination was defined but path was lost. In the midst of all bewilderness stood, Kashif Ansari, a dejected, frustrated, lonesome stranger, battling himself with scattered hopes and shattered dreams. He was the latest victim of a co-operate pride, fired from his cherished position of a team leader in a reputed Multinational, he was now alone and unemployed. He was going back to his home city, away from the crowd, away from the scream, in comfort of known, away from a big city which stole his dream.
His eyes, lost in the reflections of past caught a glimpse of an old man, when he came up to him and in an uplifting manned said, "Hi". He was in no mood to talk and wanted to enjoy the company of his pain; he looked in a very casual manner and moved away. An old man sat next to him and replied again in a cheerful manner.
"The train is late again, I appreciate Indian railways. In a world of sudden shocks and irresistible change at least they have some consistency". A well intended humor of an experienced veteran failed to bring emotion on the face of an ex-team leader.
"Son, you look upset, is everything fine"? Old warrior asked, in an honest voice.
Agony wanted to shout," Leave me alone, this is my personnel grief" but respect for age took over and Kashif for the first time in the whole interaction replied in a humble voice, "I am fine".
"Good, Son, if you don't mind will you help me out with something?" An experienced voice asked, while taking out his pen and clean white sheet".
He wanted to grab the old man by his throat and throw him in front of a coming train conveying him in his rude tone, "This is the best I can do to help anyone today". But he remained calmed and before he could think of any excuse, came another question,
"Son, I am trying to draw a sketch of this world, a world of today. If I have to paint it in image of human being, how would it look? You are young, probably you could help, so just pour out whatever fits your description and help old man paint his masterpiece". He winked and smiled.
Helping someone achieve a meaningless goal was the last exercise, which a sulking heart and an irritated mind wanted to indulge in. But a little voice, from the core of the heart urged him to listen to the voice of experience, so with a deep breath and uninterested tone he asked. "What do you want me to tell?"
"Anything, your thoughts, your mind, I am your listener and we have a good amount of time".
Another announcement of train being further delayed by 15 minutes, fueled in the disgust and inspired the emotions to express themselves in an uncompromising way.
A Conversation: Silence (Old Man) and Words (Kashif Ansari)
Words: This is a selfish, ruthless, insecure, manipulative and deceptive world. The definition of values is based on morals set by the society depending upon the status and rank of an individual. (Floodgates were now open).
You know, if the world has to be drawn in human form, he had to be elegantly dressed in its most effective form. As this is what the society craves an empty, exaggerated, external show off.
Silence: He! You would like it to be Him?
Words: (Without any thought or understanding of the question came a blunt), "Yes".
Words: He would have a cunning and mysterious smile on his face. The one which could not be easily interpreted, the one which hide in itself thousand unspoken gestures of lies and disgust but still it will sparkle high on his face because of its own personnel selfish Interest. (He was now warming up).
Silence: He was alert to every word which was being spoken. Unbiased in his approach and observant to minutest detail, he was carefully crafting everything which was being said.
Words: (Getting stronger): He would be wearing bright and colorful clothes something which would snap your imagination in a blink and would allure you to its blinding and his eyes, he would never like the truth of his heart to be exposed by his eyes, so they will be covered, with glasses or shades so that nothing is known and nothing is told.
The words were now over and emotions were expressed. There was now a complete stillness in heart and mind. The old messenger of time was done with his sketch and traveler of tomorrow was quite with his words. There was supreme bliss of emptiness in the environment, which was lost in noise and anxiety. The old man silently looked at him and without whispering a word handed him the white paper on which the projection of Kashif's agony was made.
The old man left the place, but Kashif stood still because he recognized the face that was sketched on that sheet. He looked at the paper again and again, trying to interpret the meaning which was giving him little comfort and little pain.It was a face of someone known, on that lifeless sheet of paper it was his own portrait which was drawn.