Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Old Man at the Fish Shop

Waiting in the car I noticed an old man walk up to the fish fry bandi. He was returning after a hard day's labour. He had a spade on his shoulder, the tired look of someone who spent the day out at work. Just enough energy to drag himself home.

He forced a smile - one that gave away his secret hope.
'How much?" he asked.
"Thirty rupees," said the owner of the fish fry stall.
There was that silence. The smile turned into a slow grimace as reality met hope. The dream was fading away.
"Can you give it to me for Rs. 10?" he asked.
"For twenty I can give you a small piece," said the fish stall owner.

The smile had fully faded by now. A sigh surely escaped that lean, tired frame. He looked around at any other possibility. In measured steps that frame, spade on the shoulder walked slowly into the darkness. So symbolically. Every movement of that body screamed of that infinite patience it has been granted. Will there ever be deliverance? Will that look, that walk ever see hope beyond a few minutes?

I wondered what he would do after he went home. His wife, children. His own illusions about his life, what he grew up as, what he dreamed of, what he supported, what he cherished and what he had come to. He would have led an honest life, even a pious life, a hardworking life.

But this life is not for the likes of him. He will have to live out this life and hope to do better in the next. This is life.

This is a countryman of mine.    


Anonymous said...

Damm Hari, thats the most depressing post you ever wrote!!

Harimohan said...

Sorry about that Anon. But it was such a powerful moment, I could not get it out of my mind. It's something we all share with the old man perhaps - we all stop at different fish fry bandis.