Grandpa in the Neighbourhood.
Summer.Sunday.Lazy noon.comfy couch…Well,you pretty much get the picture.
I was flicking the TV channels at a rate of 3 per second(Yeah, I’m an Engineer) .When the calling bell rang indicating the presence of an unwelcome guest, I peeped out. Then went to unlock the door rather grudgingly and hid my boredom behind a smile as I welcomed the Old man who used to live in the neighborhood when I was a kid. I shouted “Dad, Guest for you!” and went to collect my saviour, the headphones that helped me survive such boring conversations with old people who liked to drone on and on about 'their' days.
My dad came in just then.He greeted our guest warmly and enquired about his family. The Old man smiled serenely and replied “My wife passed away few months back.She battled breast cancer for two years and cancer won. She looked beautiful in the casket and we decked her entire body with flowers. I think she smiled.”
I froze with shock. All I could think was about a colleague who broke up with his girl friend because she was fat.My curiosity to know more about this Old man made me abondon the headphones.I went and sat crosslegged on the floor, near his chair. He patted my head and said “You were so little the last time I played with you”. Suddenly some hazy memories crossed my mind. A set of cups and saucers that I played with as a toddler. I remembered they used to be red in colour with white stars printed on the brim.
“Grandpa, You gave me those red cups and saucers.I still have them in the attic” I told him excited and he looked happy. Whether it was because I called him grandpa or because I remembered the cups still,I couldn’t tell. I genuinely wanted to speak to him now. To know who took care of him now, how he spends his time, to know more about his life. He also seemed interested to talk to me. I told him that I quit my software job at an IT firm to pursue higher studies in my domain and about how all my friends thought it was a stupid idea. He listened to me patiently and said “If you don’t like the job and still hold on to it, you will be just a cyber slave. You will work to prove yourself to computers and people who don’t matter and stop following everything you dreamed of. Now, do you want to be a slave?” He raised his white bushy eyebrows.
I said “No!” and was surprised at the sense of conviction that washed over me.I felt so sure about my career choices after a long time.
Then I made coffee for him and dad.We sat talking through the entire evening. I listened sharply as both men discussed politics, business, morals and the list went on. I noticed the old man’s expressions and voice as he spoke. The love when he spoke about his wife, the pride when asked about his children ,the complete bliss while explaining the cute antics done by his grandchildren and above all the wisdom and grace that life had taught him.
What would have been a muted conversation with my headphones on, turned to be one of the real conversations that I had been in a long time. I still couldn’t believe that this Old man,aged seventy can cook his own food, goes for a walk in the morning and reads atleast one book every month. Considering the life style that I follow now, I don’t know if I can walk with out help when I’m a septuagenarian. I used to think that the old people’s world was too old and boring .That day the old man who thought his dead wife was beautiful, changed my perspective about a lot of things.
I am not going to end this blog with usual 'we youngsters have a lot to learn from the elders.' But it doesn’t hurt to have a change of perspective and perceptions from time to time. Life need not be always about job,money, selfies,galas, social media ,binge watching serials and surfing the net .Today,find someone in your neighbourhood to talk to ,I mean really talk to, not just the formal hi and hello’s we keep saying daily. It’s a completely different experience and I liked it .Hope you do too.
Ps: Grandpa in the neighbourhood is very much real, like you and me. Nothing in this blog is fictional.