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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Old Man Beneath The Tree Speaks

I had been away for a little longer than expected and haven't got anything to write. So I prefer to publish one of the stories that I wrote few years ago. It is about an old man, his thoughts and his experiences.

Old Man Beneath The Tree Speaks

They say life is a journey and we walk along. But things have been a little different for me.

"Life is a journey and I am an observer."

So has it been always. I have been sitting beneath this age old tree at the last few hours of the day, as the light diminishes, darkness takes over and even in the dull light one can see everything so clearly; as if everything has turned so transparent.

They walked by the street near by and I sat there watching them. Some just walked away without noticing me, and some stopped by to talk for a while and very few actually joined me most of the evenings as I watched and only watched.

The old man looked dull, but still with so much to talk. He stopped by and shook my hands and chatted for a while of everything that he could remember of; the country politics; his young old days and all the current issues. He talked and talked as if he had not for years and then he stopped as if he had realized something and then left. Half way gone he turned and smiled. The look was captured; his eyes bloated and the tears were received. So many unspoken thoughts flow or was it only my imagination? Or just an illusion? I don’t know but the eyes spoke, the thoughts did flow.

And then I sat again the next evening beneath the same tree watching people; having spent the previous night recalling the old mans words and then packing them all behind the pillow and sleeping for the rest of the night as if there never existed a day.

One evening, an old lady murmured some words to herself as she walked by me. Some words of pain, some thoughts of sadness and the wind that flew past her loosely tied hair came near me, with the miasma, with the silence that always follows the eruption. Words split, stories unravelled, possibilities increased and then followed the questions - Is this all an imagination? Only an illusion?

Days change, sun rises and then sets and I sit waiting, for whom? I don’t know. People drop in words like one drops post into a box and they leave as if assured that now the letter has reached its destination. They smile, drop a letter and move on and some never look back. But those letters, I carry and keep them safe, in my closets and drawers.

They come to me sometimes weeping, sometimes smiling, sometimes dull, and sometimes defeated and they talk as I listen. One would talk about his age old stories, another of his failures. One spoke of her traumas; horrible childhood memories and other of her love stories or nightmares. One spoke of his ambition as another would talk about the hobbies. So I had no less of these stories which I couldn’t even share or re-mention. So it always stayed inside the closets of my room permanently locked, always in there I don’t know hiding from what?

So the letters where dropped every single day or was it every single hour? The postman usually receives the letter and then takes them where it needs to go but all I could do was collect them as may be they were some treasure and make a heap of them behind the locked doors of my room. So there they lie even now, untouched for so many days, undisturbed.

One must be wondering what I did with them? One may not find out why was this anxiousness to listen to the others pain? Was it for fun? or forget ones own pains? Or just to make others feel that they are felt? If you ask me I may not answer this even if I know the answer, so please don’t ask me, instead watch me sit every evening beneath that tree and try to look at my eyes. Not a single person who passed by my tree did that. So won't you. Because people always want to be listened so they go on and on. And one day when they realise that all they had to say is finished they walk away and that’s when I learn that I haven’t spoken at all. All through the conversation I was only a listener and then I smile and walk back home.

One day, I walked through a forest with another companion who stayed there in the deep forests; where wild animals howled in the dark; where the rattling of leaves is no more music. That night I could not sleep, I went out to the forest and slowly began to explore my friend’s home. On my way,  I saw two deers, a peacock, a tiger and a fox. They appeared to me as shades or images of one common animal.

In the deep woods, as the daylight struggled to enter I realized that I was lost. I cried, wept to free myself from this imprisonment; to break away the chain of clay that bonded me. That was when all the locks exploded and the words came out, as if like the fire from a volcanic eruption. And they all flowed out of the room, from the closets, from the drawers into the narrow pathway. The words haunted; smiles and cries became scary and every thought pricked. Was it still an illusion? Still an imagination? Know not I.

And as I stepped into my room that was filled with letters and words and thoughts I saw that deep beneath the heap were some more unnoticed words; some more thoughts that I had never encountered. And it dint take me long to notice that they where of mine, so much wanting to come out of the room, so much wanting to be listened but always got submerged beneath the words that rushed in, always moving back towards the shell. That was when I decided to sit beside the tree and talk as I listen. The room was cleaned and the words locked behind the closets and I was there as always sitting beside the old tree to share and receive.

6 comments:

  1. I have to read again to go into the depths ... Has old man discovered angel 3 and feels better ...??

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  2. Totally confused with this buddy!! I am sorry, but my mind is not able to grasp the story. I like things simple. And perhaps I need to take a print out and read this.

    Here's what I have so far. Sorry to put your story so crudely :)

    Old man and a guy talk. Old man dies. His wife tells guy that old man died. He relates with his own stories which he has never told anyone.

    Who's the companion in the forest, is it a metaphor for your inner consciousness? Then the dude notices that he has his own stories that he has not told and comes back to the tree to talk and share with others and feels like the old man felt.

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  3. Harsha - :-) Well thanks for the attempt. I know it isnt that straight forward. Probably even eratic at times. Never got time to refine it.

    If i tell you what i had in mind, then you are forced to accept the authors view. Just would like to say that its more about expressing yourself. Listening in line with speaking out and putting away the thoughts rather than closing them within the closets of your room.

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  4. So have I interpreted correctly what you had in mind ? :)

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  5. That was a nice one.. I must say!

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