December 31, 2005


It was a bright sunny morning. The kind of day when you just want to laze around all day in the sun and hope time stands still. And if you have a day off you think it cant get any better. But it can if you have an occasion to celebrate and you have people coming in and lots of food going around.

It was on one such day that I noticed that an old man was sitting alone in one corner of the yard in front of the house. It was more the lack of having anything to do than anything else that made me go to him. He looked at me and smiled and I thought to myself "Get ready to be bored".

I smiled back.

I couldnt help but begin by asking his age.

"About 75 years. In our times we didnt keep exact time and date of our birth", he replied.

He looked younger specially with the way he sat erect with the hookah in his hand ( It was later he told me that the doctor had asked him to stop smoking, so now hookah was his constant companion).

I was ready to be bored and I thought to myself how bad could it be. All I had to do was think of something else and pretend I was interested in whatever he was saying.

" Whatever the age is son, the body is failing", he continued. So this is what it was going to be about. It was not the first time I would be listening to someone raving about his failing health. I smiled.

But 75 years got me thinking. I have always been fascinated by how things were way back then and I wanted a first hand account of that life,specially in the village.
" So you remember the times when we were not independent. How was it?" I asked.
I was prepared to hear of british atrocities and stuff like that.
" We never knew when we got independent until we had our first elections. Nothing really changed."
This was a surprise. Before I could react, he continued " Life has become so much easier now. We used to carry 60 kgs on our back 50 kms to the market and come back by night fall and we got 2 Rs. for that, sometimes lesser."
To think of someone walking 70 kms. in one day was weird and alll for a mere 2 Rs. I had nothing to say. But he continued ," One day someone told us about the steam engine so we went to see it.", his eyes sparkled as he said that ," It was dark and as we stepped on the platfrom it was day once again."
" Day once again? what do you mean?" I couldnt help but ask.
" The light bulb. It was the first time we saw it. It was like a mini sun had been brought there."
As he said this he had an expression on his face that is impossible to describe in words. We all have read or heard or seen it in a book or movie where stuff like that happens but to see it in the eys of a real person is an experience worth having. It was as if he was transported back in time. He was smiling and his face still registered some of the surprise that must have been on his face back then.
"Then the train came", he continued " We ran...We didnt know where to go, where to run for there was this piece of steel that seemed to have a life of its own and where it would go no one knew."
I so missed having a camera then. The expression on his face was priceless and surely worth many an award. For a second, it seemed, all the wrinkles off the old face were gone and he was a young lad of 18 again.
We who are born in these times will never be surprised by anything now. Even if someone comes up with a time machine we are expecting that already. To travel from one place to another as electrons and protons is also something that we think is possible in the near future. So are we missing something or are we better off. I mean none of us who read this or write here will have to carry a 60 kg bag for 70 kms. They say these times that we live in are the best. We have everything ready made for us. But is it like that really?


deshkimitti said...

Hey Lokesh,

I just came across your blogs due to ur perseverance .. :) ..
but this was a real nice piece of work that left me thinking ...
very well articulated ... and a very strong thought !!


Anonymous said...

hey Lokesh
arey kya bhat hai yaar?

Bluepanther said...

Kya baat hai matlab ..achhi baat hai ya buri baat hai..?

wordmonkey said...

its a clique isn't it - nothing stays the same?
I guess we all have our steamengines to experience, provided we have the courage the raise our heads and look at them

as for having a camera - you didn't need one, you captured the expression in your writing didn't you?

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