I go for walks every day. Long solo walks in the evening when the sky is mellow, preparing for nightfall, children prancing about in the park; their jubilant screams when the swings go up in the air charge up the atmosphere around me. I look forward to this time of the day. This activity has become a habit I have developed over the years and I am quite proud of it. It helps de-clutter my mind. Most of my writing ideas come to me while I am on my walks.
Of late, I have been noticing this old man who is also a regular walker like me. He too seems to enjoy a quiet stroll around the neighbourhood in the evening. We walk down the same streets every day. The only difference is, his pace is much slower than mine. Frankly, I never paid much attention to him as he seemed just as ordinary and nondescript as anyone of his age could be. With his shoulders slumped forward and his spine slightly bent-up, he moves with extreme caution.
Today, I was on my second or third round when I noticed him dawdling ahead of me. The same C-shaped posture with one hand resting on his back and the other firmly on the walking stick, taking each step slowly and carefully. I was about to out-pace him again, but something caught my eye. I slowed down a bit only to make sure he was okay as he was stooping on his cane quite unusually this time. There were some shards of glass and dry twigs (possibly the deciduous remnants of the thorny bushes which might have flown in by the wind) scattered on the path. He was pushing them away with the end of his stick. When I walked past him, he smiled at me and said, “I see children and dogs run around these streets every day and someone could get hurt by stepping on these.” He had a look of concern on his face. Genuine and touching. I could see that.
I don’t know much about his generation, but after today, all I could say is, how in the twilight years of his life, he still thinks and does things for a generation that came much later than his. He still believes in paving the way for others. We are too busy in our mindless pursuits to pay attention to something so small and apparently ‘insignificant’. A small act of thoughtfulness is what separates his kind from ours.
Picture: Vlad Chetan (Pexels)