An Eye Opener

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Compassion and its Expectancy.

Submitted: March 27, 2015

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Submitted: March 27, 2015

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 I was in a doubt whether it was the same old man who I ever used to see from my balcony or whenever I walked through my apartment passage who lurked work-shy around everywhere and seemed like he wanted compassion. I saw him in the morning by the regular bus stop from where I took my regular bus and there I came to know it was him. And every time I saw him, there were jitters in my stomach whether I should talk to him and relieve his seeming pain by letting him know that I was his friend (or least I wanted to be) but I just couldn’t get the bolt needed for the courageous job and I just looked at him wondering my old age would also turn the same.

He was a bald man with long strands of grey hair surrounding his oval head. He wore the same khaki colored shirt and his indigenous white trousers. His steps were tiresome and his actions were of a typical old man. But what was atypical about him was that he was unpredictably silent (which people of his age usually aren’t) and that his eyes, his work-tired weary eyes were wistful which made me sure to put my compassion onto this man. In the bus, the few fragments that I could see of him were normal, the other were covered by a thick noisy crowd. And time passed as I least expected and everything happened so fast that I was still left thinking and my stop had finally come and I had to get down after my reflex arc got stimulated suddenly after knowing that my stop had come and I got down hastily. And after this unusual incident which mattered least in my usual routine, I went on to work as usual.

The time at work was silly like all of those average work days when you’re not sad and you’re not completely happy either, you’re in a neutral state of mind, completely stone-minded and that feeling is I must say; healthy. But the day wasn’t the same repetitive. No it wasn’t...

In the evening while heading back home I saw the same old man at the bus stop again. The day was turning weird wanting to play with my hypothalamus, where dopamine was secreted to make a person feel compassion. And I was fighting with it.

 He was sitting on the metal frame rack of the bus stop which was not a place meant for sitting. He seemed unvalued and forgotten and more or less unemployed. There was nothing with him, not any handbag or work related things like that which made me wonder his reason for such an errand. So he was sitting on the metal frame and the bus stop was crowded. I thought of talking to him there also but something spoiled me from doing that. A sweeping woman from the Municipal Corporation was cleaning the streets and she had just come near the bus stop. She wanted to sweep from inside the stop, she seemed dedicated, but as soon as she crossed over she found the old man as a hindrance, nobody else but the old man. She told him a couple of times rashly to get up and let her do her job, but he seemed not to hear her. I believed that man was hard of hearing as I saw him a couple of times ignore the call of people calling him in the passage or the garden in which he strolled. But that woman kept on getting rasher until she finally pushed him down. He was humiliated in front of everybody and to my surprise he wasn’t silent. He burst out open onto the woman and argued with her. The heat was increasing and someone had to break between them. I did. I told the woman to forgive him; he might not have heard her well and tried to make her understand. Soon the woman went cursing both of us. And that was the time when I first tried to make a contact with him. Everybody seemed to look at him in disgust and I felt more pity for him. I tried to talk to him, told him that I lived in the same apartment but he seemed uninterested.

Every time I talked to him, he would definitely say some words with meaning and other which were meaningless. He spoke gibberish and I never understood him. Half the things I told him about himself and the apartment he seemed to forget and he even forgot my name which I told him twice some minutes before. I thought ‘Alzheimer’ maybe. But how could he remember the same bus that he had to take?

That wasn’t answerable. 

The bus finally came and we both entered it. We hadn’t talked for about ten minutes, our meaningless conversation ended awkwardly. Well the main reason I felt so much about this old man was my own grandfather. How my father had abandoned him in a house for the old and how my mother carelessly used to trouble him when he was at home. I was little then and I don’t really remember my any moment with him except the fact that he was very kind and some anecdotes told to me repeatedly by my old neighbors. And the same circumstance seemed to reflect in the old man. He in vain used to sit alone the whole day long onto the bench and used to see the children wistfully. Once or twice I heard the maid having a gossip with my mother about how his family treated him. She used to say that he is a psycho but I believed it was because of the attitude of people towards him. I used to see him talk to the plants of the garden, it was bad. And now he was here in front of me in the crammed bus standing in discomfort.  

One or two times he tried to plunge into the seats which were going to be emptied but he just couldn’t, the other people got hold of the seats before. Of course there was a side entirely reserved for senior citizens but there were many of them standing. On one of these seats a woman sat with her five year old son on her lap. He was half asleep. The old man a bit irritated by her age, yelled at her to get up. She said that her son had been in school all day, it was his sports day and he was tired. The man however stubborn on the fact got the seat. Everyone looked at him in disgust, everyone seemed to hate him. ‘No one cares about these old people; they are treated as trash on this earth, as useless’ I thought. Then again something unwanted happened. The bus conductor came on giving tickets or inspecting the passes. I took the ticket. When he approached the old man for the ticket, he told he had pass without contacting his eyes. He must’ve thought the conductor would go without inspecting, but to his dismay the conductor asked for the pass. The old man argued that he had a pass, he travelled every day. But the conductor disagreed and asked for the pass. The old man was stubborn on not showing the pass as he came everyday. And this went on and on. Finally the old man confessed that he had a pass but it was at home so he couldn’t and he wouldn’t show as he travelled every day. It was obvious how the conductor would’ve reacted. He held the man with his collar (oh he was frustrated by the day) and he dragged him to get out of the bus. The situation was getting worse, so finally I broke into again and paid for his ticket calming down the conductor apologizing to him by the old man’s side. And the atmosphere dwindled in awkwardness.

When I got down I had mixed thoughts. I didn’t know what to say. The old man went further without even saying thank you, instead he had remarked crankily ‘What do you think of? You don’t have to do all this. Let these foolish useless conductors learn a lesson’. He went walking without looking back. And I didn’t know what perception to make of this guy. When we both reached the apartments he had some words with the watchman, he kind off was his friend. Whilst all this, some kids were playing cricked in the passage (I suppose their exams were over and everyone knew about this fact). But the old man broke the conversation with the watch man and shouted at the kids to go away and not disturb people. They were not disturbing anyone; even if they wanted they hardly could because there was enough room for their shots to bother anybody. So the kids defended themselves, but the old man (as he was stubborn) made them leave by shouting awfully and embarrassing them. The angry yet despondent kids sat on the benches cursing the old man in silence. And I looked at all this without an outcome.

So to clear the mist of doubts I approached the watchman-

“Giridhar Kaka... what’s wrong with that old man?”

“Whom are you talking about sahab?”

“That old man whom you were talking to; Patel I suppose”

“Oh that man, sahab what about that man?”

“No I was wondering he strolls in the passage every day and he is a bit whimsical, isn’t he? What’s wrong with him?”

“That man sahab...I must say...he is a psycho. Nobody likes him, his temper is bad. Whenever someone tries to talk to him, he replies harshly. Every day he heads off to some place in the city and troubles whoever he wants. He travels useless, workless just for the sake of his entertainment. He likes to trouble people and see them in pain. And then at the end of the day, whenever he comes he tells me about his odd adventures and expects me also to laugh. But how could I laugh on such disgusting things?”

Saying he left me to open the gate for a car had come. And I was mystified. What is this man? I don’t understand. And I walked in contempt off to my room.

All the way while walking I wondered about what I earlier felt about this guy. How compassionate my attitude was towards this helpless person and how disgusted I was with people who maltreated him. How judgmental I was with both the types of people.

Then when I reached my wing and was waiting for the elevator, I saw the old man again, sitting on top of the water tank all alone in obscurity. He was smoking. He smoked brooding at the dark blue sky and made a noise at intervals, as a cloud of smoke enveloped his dark shadow.

He was laughing, on the crying sky. 

 


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