Friday, June 15, 2012

Thoughts on a Sunny June Afternoon

I walk out of my office building on a sunny June afternoon
Soon realizing it is too sunnier than I would have liked it to be.
As I move towards the metro,
I catch a glimpse of myself on the glass of buildings-
Denizens of a vast concrete jungle.
I look at my reflection;
Dishevelled hair, flying across my face,
Too bad it's getting thinner, and not me.
I must convince Amma to let me get it straightened.
My legs look a bit fat; I should start wearing heels soon.
I glance at the light purple polish on my nails.
What the heck, I just applied it last night,
And it's already begun to fade!
Maybe it's the brand. I must buy another.
Oh, and those new jeans...

More. More. More.
Simply not enough.
Thoughts. Thoughts. Thoughts.

Suddenly, I see the old uncle.
Weak and frail, old enough to be my grandpa.
Sitting cross legged, right under the wrath of the noon sun
Beside the busy bustling pavement.
His crutches in front of him,
Stretching out little packets of tissue,
Hoping that someone will stop to buy.
Women in pencil skirts and high heels,
Men bursting with self importance and pride,
All rushing away, too busy in their own busy worlds.
I wonder what the old uncle is thinking.
What are his thoughts?
Circumstances, situations, what brought him here?
A family too 'busy' to care?
Or did they care at all?
Accident of Birth?
Thoughts. Thoughts. Thoughts.

An hour later, I return to work.
A mountain load of studies, waiting to be analysed.
Black letters against a white background.
My own notes, painstakingly handwritten.
Glistening blue ink against yellow notepaper.
Timetables, schedules, appointments, to do lists.

More. More. More.
Simply not enough.
Thoughts. Thoughts. Thoughts.

I see the old uncle again.
Same place, same gesture
Stretching out little packets of tissue.
I stop. He says, 'One dollar, miss!'
As I hand him a golden one dollar,
He presses five tissue packets into my palm.
I wonder what the old uncle is thinking.
What are his thoughts?
Was that his first sale for the day?
It's just too hot to even walk! How is he sitting here all day?
Has he had lunch? Will he be able to?
Thoughts. Thoughts. Thoughts.

As I walk away, I decide to get lemon tea.
I deserve a treat for having braved the noon sun.
But my thoughts return to the old uncle.
How do you justify his state of being?
An unfortunate turning in the wheel of dharma?
Or is it determined by the cycle of karma?
Or, again, is it just an Accident of Birth?
There is no answer.
Yet, the old uncle continues to plod on.

He doesn't want your charity.
He is earning his livelihood.
Despite all odds, stacked against him.
Frail and tired, ignored and neglected.
How much will he earn in one day?
Will there be enough?
There are no answers.
Yet, like the warrior prince in the Kurukshetra War,
He continues to simply move on with his duty.

What are my thoughts?
How much I can learn from the old uncle!
Honour for his dignity of labour.
No job is too low for anyone.
Hope that he doesn't give up his hope.
Even in the darkest day, hope brings a spark of light.
Respect for his courage, his will to move on.
Imagine facing such adversity in old age!
And above all,
A prayer for the sweet old uncle,
Old enough to be my grandpa.
A plea to God almighty-
Please take care of him.

More. More. More
Simply not enough.
Prayers.Prayers.Prayers.

2 comments:

  1. Beautiful post and thought provoking one too. Liked the play of words - wheel of dharma, cycle of karma!
    What happened to filial piety? The Generation X should give it a thought- isn't it their moral responsibility? In a way I am proud of that old man. He is earning his living through honest means and not sitting back and cursing his fate or circumstances, whatever you call it. His HOPE and Determination will take him through his life. Say a prayer for him and Almighty will truly bless him and don't forget to count your blessings!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dignity of labour was something I found in Korea too. I spoke to this old cab driver. He had retired from a respectable job and is now a cab driver and looking after his needs. And he had equal pride when he spoke about his previous and current job. It was an eye opener for me. I guess most of us look forward to retirement where we can just lazy around and struggle to earn as much as we can....and it always seems simply not enough. And Korea is also the land of filial piety and people take care of their parents and old people. So this man was working in retired life not because he had to but he wanted to.Now that's dignity of work and karma yogam.

    ReplyDelete

Friday, June 15, 2012

Thoughts on a Sunny June Afternoon

I walk out of my office building on a sunny June afternoon
Soon realizing it is too sunnier than I would have liked it to be.
As I move towards the metro,
I catch a glimpse of myself on the glass of buildings-
Denizens of a vast concrete jungle.
I look at my reflection;
Dishevelled hair, flying across my face,
Too bad it's getting thinner, and not me.
I must convince Amma to let me get it straightened.
My legs look a bit fat; I should start wearing heels soon.
I glance at the light purple polish on my nails.
What the heck, I just applied it last night,
And it's already begun to fade!
Maybe it's the brand. I must buy another.
Oh, and those new jeans...

More. More. More.
Simply not enough.
Thoughts. Thoughts. Thoughts.

Suddenly, I see the old uncle.
Weak and frail, old enough to be my grandpa.
Sitting cross legged, right under the wrath of the noon sun
Beside the busy bustling pavement.
His crutches in front of him,
Stretching out little packets of tissue,
Hoping that someone will stop to buy.
Women in pencil skirts and high heels,
Men bursting with self importance and pride,
All rushing away, too busy in their own busy worlds.
I wonder what the old uncle is thinking.
What are his thoughts?
Circumstances, situations, what brought him here?
A family too 'busy' to care?
Or did they care at all?
Accident of Birth?
Thoughts. Thoughts. Thoughts.

An hour later, I return to work.
A mountain load of studies, waiting to be analysed.
Black letters against a white background.
My own notes, painstakingly handwritten.
Glistening blue ink against yellow notepaper.
Timetables, schedules, appointments, to do lists.

More. More. More.
Simply not enough.
Thoughts. Thoughts. Thoughts.

I see the old uncle again.
Same place, same gesture
Stretching out little packets of tissue.
I stop. He says, 'One dollar, miss!'
As I hand him a golden one dollar,
He presses five tissue packets into my palm.
I wonder what the old uncle is thinking.
What are his thoughts?
Was that his first sale for the day?
It's just too hot to even walk! How is he sitting here all day?
Has he had lunch? Will he be able to?
Thoughts. Thoughts. Thoughts.

As I walk away, I decide to get lemon tea.
I deserve a treat for having braved the noon sun.
But my thoughts return to the old uncle.
How do you justify his state of being?
An unfortunate turning in the wheel of dharma?
Or is it determined by the cycle of karma?
Or, again, is it just an Accident of Birth?
There is no answer.
Yet, the old uncle continues to plod on.

He doesn't want your charity.
He is earning his livelihood.
Despite all odds, stacked against him.
Frail and tired, ignored and neglected.
How much will he earn in one day?
Will there be enough?
There are no answers.
Yet, like the warrior prince in the Kurukshetra War,
He continues to simply move on with his duty.

What are my thoughts?
How much I can learn from the old uncle!
Honour for his dignity of labour.
No job is too low for anyone.
Hope that he doesn't give up his hope.
Even in the darkest day, hope brings a spark of light.
Respect for his courage, his will to move on.
Imagine facing such adversity in old age!
And above all,
A prayer for the sweet old uncle,
Old enough to be my grandpa.
A plea to God almighty-
Please take care of him.

More. More. More
Simply not enough.
Prayers.Prayers.Prayers.

2 comments:

  1. Beautiful post and thought provoking one too. Liked the play of words - wheel of dharma, cycle of karma!
    What happened to filial piety? The Generation X should give it a thought- isn't it their moral responsibility? In a way I am proud of that old man. He is earning his living through honest means and not sitting back and cursing his fate or circumstances, whatever you call it. His HOPE and Determination will take him through his life. Say a prayer for him and Almighty will truly bless him and don't forget to count your blessings!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dignity of labour was something I found in Korea too. I spoke to this old cab driver. He had retired from a respectable job and is now a cab driver and looking after his needs. And he had equal pride when he spoke about his previous and current job. It was an eye opener for me. I guess most of us look forward to retirement where we can just lazy around and struggle to earn as much as we can....and it always seems simply not enough. And Korea is also the land of filial piety and people take care of their parents and old people. So this man was working in retired life not because he had to but he wanted to.Now that's dignity of work and karma yogam.

    ReplyDelete