“I always walked down the road alone, and every day my eyes met with this old man puffing on his cheap cigarettes and playing music on his harmonium with his clothes half torn. He sees me and I see him.
Every evening I walk alone and I return home to the feeling of nothingness. Sometimes I wonder, am I drowning? Am I drowning in this lonesome feeling? Am I sinking so deep that someday I will fail to swim out of it? And that’s that. I go back to sleep. I wake up and go to job. And return home walking down that street all alone. I remember how that street used to be my favorite once because of the candy shop there and how every time I would annoy my mother dearest to buy me one of those colorful eye-catching lollipops and how she would hold me up in her arms and rather take me home and feed me her cookies than ever buying me that candy. Well, I hardly ever got to have those lollipops, only once in two months and the cookies definitely paled in taste with the lollipops but you see, it was the memories of this lane, it was my mother dearest’s voice and soft arms wrapping me but now it has become a part of that nothingness I feel. Like I drown in these memories as if it is taking over me. As if I need to fight those very memories that once made me feel alive. But as I can only mourn for now, I would resist doing so and go clean my room up and sleep. As another day, another month, and maybe a few more years are waiting for me with the offering of their nothingness. Well, I wonder, how long is this going to be, or is it too late already? But then, It was a summer evening. The red sky merged with the blue horizon, as I passed by the old man. He stopped me. I was stuck in bewilderment as I approached him. He made me sit next to him and I followed.
The old man puffed on his same old cheap cigarettes and played some tunes on his harmonium. His harmonium seemed as old as him but still very new as he kept it clean and well. As he took some deep breaths, he started a conversation with me that I shall never forget. He asked me, “O’ young man! What is it that bothers you?” He asked, “Isn’t your generation gifted with every wealth of the world and innumerable paths to choose?
O’ young man! Isn’t your generation gifted with gold-plated vehicles and exceptional servants who serve their masters unconditionally?
O, young man! Isn’t your generation gifted with every eye-catching piece of clothing, some even as torn as mine?”
And I was wondering what to answer, he was right after all. I had everything: a proper house, a well-paid job, an obedient maid, good-looking pieces of clothing. Everything that almost everyone had, so why was I always so dismayed? I even questioned myself. But then he looked up at me, stroking his grey beard, and told me his tale, a tale that changed my perception of life from then on. A tale that I always think of, a tale with words that reflected reality at its rawest form. As he spoke in reminiscence,
“Young man, years ago, I too was like you. I was worn out, tired, sad and I never knew the reason. I lost my parents at the age of 12 and since then I was meant to live in a hut and work as a laborer in construction sites. I worked every day without a reason, I ate rotten fruits to satisfy my stomach without a reason to do so, I slept through construction noises and dreamt dreams of beautiful valleys, that too without any reason to do so. But as every morning came, I lived through it, still without a reason to do so. But I’m glad I did. Because when I was lost deep in that forest of nothingness, I found her. She became the one to rescue me. She became the one who weaved those dreams into reality. She saved me. You see, sometimes all you need is someone to save you. Someone to pull you out of that sea of nothingness. Someone to rescue you from that dark forest. Well! She left me decades ago, and alas! I couldn’t save her. But even while leaving, she saved me again. She knew I would be lost again without her, so she gifted me this harmonium. It reminds me of her, I carry her everywhere I go and I play all her favorite songs that we used to listen together and dance to while smiling with joy in that small little house of ours. She saved me twice and now I carry her with me, protect her, and cherish the memories. She saved me once and now this harmonium saves me every day from dwelling in nothingness because all you need at the end is someone to save you, to save you.” And like that, he walked away carrying his ‘Surekha’ with his withered arms. I never saw him again on that street but I still wonder where he is and his Surekha and I only wish to meet him once to thank him for saving me. He did, his tale did. I never saw life as the way I used to see it before after that meeting. He and his Surekha saved me from dwelling on my nothingness.
Author:- Varun Chetri