Being positive is a choice. You can be a little lake, rippling with water even in the midst of dull and dry land if you decide to hold the rainwater.
The rain water that had filled the vacant plot next to our house seemed to be lost in its own world of dreams, it was shimmering and sparkling in the rays of the early morning non-procrastinating sun with the pretensions of some vibrant, throbbing lake. It was also playing host to a couple of coots.
The clouds had disappeared after a very long reign, and the coup of the sun, appeared permanent, I thought.
The group of oldies in front of me, walked on, their sparse hair, tinged in gold. They were going full throttle discussing the problems of growing old.
“Mera arthritis bahut pareshan kerta hai.” (My arthritis is very painful)
“Mera blood pressure ….”
“Meri varicose veins…….”
“Arrey, old age itself is an ailment.”
And the cribbing went on and on.
“What is the point of discussing all this? Be positive.”
Four necks whirled in the direction of the man, who appeared the oldest, probably pushing eighty, and had just joined them.
“Look at that rainwater pond, it is not a lake, but it is shining with the full ardor of some full-blooded lake.”
“Full watered, you mean?”
“Yes,” he said glaring him into silence.
“Yes, be that lake,” he reiterated.
The one with a fake Nike cap on his head, gave vent to a guffaw, I was afraid would not stop.
“Jheel to bann jayey, par humein jhelega kaun?” (We can become a lake, but who will tolerate us?)
“Arrey, you have got a new Nike cap, is it original?” one asked.
“Yes, there is nothing fake about me, everything is original,” he said, with another guffaw.
“I feel as if only my head has taken you seriously, it shines and shines in the rays of the sun,” another said, touching his bald pate in self-congratulatory mirth. “People have started growing grey and bald at a very young age, so why crib?”
And they walked on, talking about their ailments, conjuring new ones as they plodded along
“Mera arthritis …”
“Mera blood pressure ….”
“Mera blood sugar…
“Meri varicose veins…….”
“My gall stones….”
I was happy to see that although they were discussing their ailments, they were talking in a light- hearted vein, and even made digs at themselves.
Seeing them, I remembered another old man – the Old Man at the Bridge (that delightful short story of Ernest Hemingway, set in the background of Spanish Civil War in 1938). The story keeps flashing before me, whenever there is a war somewhere or a war-like situation. I can never forget the happy manner in which this old man with ‘steel- rimmed glasses and dusty clothes’ mentions his native land, San Carlos, to the narrator. The poor, seventy six year old was only worried about what would happen to his family of pets – two goats, a cat and eight pigeons, as he had left them behind when he left his house, as the enemy forces were approaching.
He was relieved that the pigeons would fly away because the cage was unlocked, the cat would fend for itself, but the future of the goats was doubtful. What was favourable for the old man, however, was that due to the overcast sky, the enemy planes were not yet up in the sky.
Had I said that the coup of the sun appeared to be permanent? Well, it was not, as some clouds had almost covered the sun, and suddenly rain appeared imminent. It was the cue for me to rush home, which I did, still wondering what happened to his goats. And if I could have that one moment in time when I can be that lake and hold the rainwater, gently rippling with life. And this time Whitney Houston started singing in my mind. 🙂
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