March 9, 2011 3 Comments
Whenever I spotted them coming my way from a distance, I usually averted looking at from close. It was on my Sunday morning walks that I crossed them, the father and the daughter and the mother on rare occasions. On some days it was the evening outing to the market. The girl – she was probably in late teens, somewhat chubby, wore a salwar-kameez; the bib around the neck, the far-away look and the shuffling gait gave her away.
It was always an unhurried pace, no carry-bags in hand, no pausing on the way to exchange pleasantries with anyone. They always walked side-by-side. I don’t recall seeing him hold her hands. No slouch or slack in his posture. He wore his t-shirts tucked in. The face had traces of pock-marks softened by age, small tufts of white hair on the sides breaking up the monotony of the bald pate. The deep-set eyes were steady, alert and showed no ire or despair.
I thought about the parents – kind, patient and sensitive, round the clock, day and night, all days of the week, all of the months and the years. Really, angels on earth. My incorrigible mind did not rest with the angels. The question popped up: What would be her plight when her parents are no longer around? There are homes, I hear, though mighty expensive. I never sighted a sibling who could possibly take care of her later in life. I moved away from the depressing thought – all I could do.
I felt like a mouse in the basement, in this regard, going back to when my daughters were young and growing up – their minor infractions over my notions of what was good for them would get me into an uproar.
And what about them giving care selflessly to who are not even their own? Can you help me with a word, Non-Believers?
One day I even saw him praying in the Temple. I was sure this wasn’t the first time. I wondered what made him keep at it after his years of prayers had not yielded any relief. After all prayers are believed to be answered with reward or relief in quick time or near about.
Under man-made jurisprudence, even a prisoner has his space. However, paying for some bad Karma in her previous birth, she was mercilessly denied as much as elbow-room for herself. Inscrutable are the ways of divine dispensation, you agree, Believers?
Some weeks back, suddenly I came up on him sitting at a bus-stop in the market, all by himself. I didn’t trust my eyes until I saw him again a few days later at another bus-stop. He certainly wasn’t waiting for a bus. Was she not in town? Taken sick? When I crossed him on the road next, I mustered up enough courage to ask him if she was alright.
He shook his head his head and walked away without a word.
It has been a month. I wish for life to restore status-quo, for sighting her again walking by his side on their customary rounds.