Old Man of Rohtak

Old man of Rohtak - Illustration by Brandon Bautista
Old man of Rohtak – Illustration by Brandon Bautista

This is just another page from my diary. A diary I haven’t written anything in – for more than 5 years. This incident dates back more than 10 years.

Sometimes it’s easier to recite in a room full of people than narrating something about your life to one person. You sit down with your pen and paper trying to think what to say, and how to say it. Not so long ago, I read somewhere a writer talking about his life, and he said, my life’s just treated me like a kite and the more I write about it, more familiar it seems to me..

I believe that growing isn’t hard to do, just stand against the wall. Once I was just two feet high, today I’m six feet tall – or so the song goes.

And now as I sit down, trying to write what I should write, life seems much more complicated than it seemed until today. Every time you flip pages of your heart, there is something staring right back at you. Always.
All the people we come across with in our lives, and the mark they leave on us, is just incredible. There is that one part that still makes me wonder. Well, I reckon that’s just the way it’s meant to be. One day you are a child fighting over a toffee with your siblings, the next day you are a grown up – working hard to pay your bills. If life were so easy, I wouldn’t be writing this today.

Sometimes I think how fast I came up to be 21 years old, and all the things I’ve been through. Just makes me feel that I’m much older. Good times in our lives are just like those spring breezes that fill our hearts with happiness, hope for the future, and the promise of tomorrow. It wasn’t very long ago when I was a happy-go-lucky lad without a care or foe. And that was when this incident happened, which I still look back upon.

I grew up in a small town in India, and India is a country where you can meet just about anyone and everyone…from rich & famous to a street-side beggar. It was just another day in the month of July. Days were hot and humid, and nights were warm and muggy. There was an old man who would come to our neighborhood almost every day and just sit by the street side. One could call him a beggar, but he never asked for anything. He’d just sit there in his own way and talk to the local vendors who sold their knickknacks under the hot sun. I knew that the old man took pride in who he was and never accepted any alms. But I always used to take something for him to eat once in a while, which he didn’t seem to mind. Over time I developed a liking for him and he did too, which meant a lot to me at the tender age of 7. Once I remember, on a hot and lazy afternoon, some lady from the area got irritated at him for some reason known only to her – and started calling him names, which probably hurt him.

For he never meant to seek anything from anyone, but a little space where he could see different forms of life going about. That was the day when I was about to take a part of a sweet dish my mother had made specially for me. What other joy than sharing? When I found out that he had left that place due to that lady’s unreasonable grudge against him, I raced on my bicycle and somehow caught up with him. I told him in all my innocence that I would miss him so very much. I gave him the sweet dish I had brought along, and there was something in his eyes, which I will never forget. It wasn’t a feeling of gratitude, but it was something unconditional. Perhaps he thought that only children could act that way while the grown-ups were too busy with their lives and didn’t have too much time worrying about a street-side dreamer.

He stared at me for the longest time and then with a smile – he turned and walked away until he disappeared from my sight. May be it was tears welling up in his eyes or may be he realized that he was simply not wanted there. Whatever it was, it was a look I’ll never forget until I stop breathing. That was the last that I saw of him on that hot day in July. As years have gone by, I often look back and I wonder what became of him. Perhaps he died of heartbreak. Or may be due to indifference of people. Or may be he found that small measure of peace that a lot of us long for, but few ever find..

Perhaps he found a place  where he would sit down and dream upon the pictures that he painted of life, and of changes. I’ll never forget you old man and I’ll look for you in every face I see from highlands to plains to the Himalayan peaks..

Written sometime in 2001, Michigan (US).

Comments So Far..
  • rashmi 30 March, 2007 at 5:54 pm


  • raju 2 July, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    That’s true. Every time you write one page another memory comes out of it and there is no way you can hide it.. May be you can’t write it but those great happy days stays with you for ever….

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