Old Man By The Road

The purple knee-length dress flutters at the hem, as I walk along the cobbled road flanked by rows of wood apple and bamboo trees.  In the early hours, the residents of the Osho Meditation Resort in Pune, dressed in flowing maroon robes and bamboo sandals, are returning from their breakfast at the German Bakery located outside the complex, opposite the road.  With an air of tranquillity, within and without, they walk to their sanctuaries for the day’s sessions.  At the far end of the road, a stout woman sweeps the leaves off the sidewalk that have settled down from last night’s gusts of winds.

The nip in the air is chillier today as we head towards shorter days and longer nights.  I pull my jacket closer and turn towards the guava orchards.  The trees are bare, with no hint of a bud or fruit, yet it emanates a sweet, floral scent.  The bark scrunches itself on the trunk as if tired from being out in the cold night.  A dethroned spider is busily trying to rebuild its kingdom between two leaves, spraying out weaves of silver thread.  A flock of chirping sparrows sway in unison overhead and then fly away in the opposite direction.

I feel a light tap on my shoulder, startled I swivel around to face an elderly gentleman standing next to me.  Wearing a white dhoti and kurta, with a shawl draped to take cover from the cold, he fixes his gaze on me and says “Log jeene ki aarzoo mein mare jaa rahe hain, aur hum marne ki aarzoo mein jiye jaa rahe hain.” (“Waiting to live, people die each day, and waiting for death, I live each day.”)  With that single sentence uttered, he starts walking away as abruptly as he had arrived.

I stand speechless staring at his thinning form at the end of the road and reflect bewitchingly on what just happened and what he said.  Life is interesting and the people I have come across make it all the more mesmerising!

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