“Going inside to play or pray”, he asks the little kid, who seems to rush inside the park rather cunningly, so that he doesn’t need to pay the Rs 2 entry fee. The old man is attentive enough to catch the kid despite being involved in a conversation.
A temple is situated at the entrance of the park. To pray, the kid needn’t pay, to play, he needs to. So the initial question. To my surprise the kid doesn’t go searching in his pocket for a two rupee coin, but instead confidently opens his wallet and proceeds with the payment and leaves.
And the old man continues.
“At 71, I come here to earn Rs 3,600 a month”, he says rather disgustingly.
“Life is cruel and unforgiving”, I tell to myself. “Isn’t today a holiday”, I ask, knowing that the day being Sunday.
“There isn’t a holiday for me”, he says. The defeating statement doesn’t stop there. “Not one day I’m supposed to take a leave”, he re affirms. He draws a virtual line from one end of his forehead to another. “Fate – no one can help”, he says.
The mischievous kid gets on top of one of the reserved property of the park. The old man again screams at the boy and makes sure he gets down. He is sharp and knows his job. The park is in safe hands.
This time there isn’t a question posed but he continues with a soft heart. From his words, it is quite evident that, deep down he is hurt and tired. There is a sense of defeat and helplessness. Yet he strives as if it’s his duty to fight.
He is neatly dressed and sits with authority. Despite the monotonous pattern of his ordeal, I saw a glow in face, which I find with not many, though, they are better gifted. In today’s world, one could hardly push a day forward with the salary of his. Yet, he does. “Every penny counts”, he says. Lavish spending is the talk of another world, surviving the day is the objective.
As the days pass and years roll, heart suffers from motivation, or the lack of it. Yet, millions, like the old man sitting in the park, rise every day with a hope to have a day better than yesterday. His words revealed that life wasn’t a gift anymore instead a treasure he once received and is expected to keep it until he possibly can – with pride.
As I was about to leave the park, I offered the old man a couple of bananas, which he politely refused citing some health reasons. As I left, I saw him sit there with the same poise as I saw him when I entered.
Life goes on.
Featured Image: gettingnowhere.net