The ordinary man’s extraordinary mission suddenly made Santosh Bakaya realise there is so much yet to do and so little time.
I got up feeling blue, absolutely down in the dumps, in no mood to go for a walk, but I couldn’t have missed my walk in the New Year, so I yanked myself out of the bed, and was out of the door in a jiffy.
Today, I wanted to explore new places. I began by going into a different direction, walking some paths untrodden. The moment I walked the other way, I was absolutely captivated by an endearing scene. Near a row of trees, I saw a deserted tea kiosk surrounded by a serene and soothing ambience. Behind the trees there was a small rainwater pond where a few birds cackled and trilled, literally pulling the leg of a talkative lapwing. Unfazed by all the pulling and poking, the lapwing continued making loud noises. I found this sound of music very soothing, although the notes became pretty shrill at times.
A little distance away stood a troika of boys, getting ready to let their kites sail untethered into the blue beyond, where some birds were already cruising along. The sight that intrigued me most was that of an old man picking up all the leaves under the trees and throwing them in the pond behind the trees. Were I a painter, I would have immediately taken out my paints and brushes, and painted him for posterity.
Was he doing this voluntarily, or was he being paid for it, I wondered. I could not contain my curiosity any longer, so I asked him, “Baba, why are you doing all this? Is someone paying you for it?”
“Who will pay me? I do it on my own. Nature has given us so much beauty, why make it ugly?” he said, bending down to pick up a broom which he had kept behind one of the trees. Pouring his entire concentration into the job before him, he swept the place clean, and collecting all the leaves in a bag, upended the bag in the puddle.
Then he washed his hands under a community tap next to a tree, walked a little further, where there was a small tea stall and bought a cup of tea for himself. I started walking away from the scene, but not before I had stolen a look in his direction.
He was sitting under a tree, sipping from the teacup, a look of absolute bliss on his face. A look that comes from the satisfaction of a job well done. I could almost hear the lyrics of some happy song that his heart was humming. As I walked on, the notes of those lyrics kept following me, putting a smile on my lips too. I looked up at the sky, a blue kite was trying to merge into the blue beyond, taking away my blues with it.
The ordinary man’s extraordinary mission suddenly made me realise there is so much yet to do and so little time. I almost skipped back home.
(Picture: Santosh Bakaya)
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