Tuesday, July 22, 2014


"She wasn't doing a thing I could see, except standing there on the balcony railing, holding the universe together".

That was JD Salinger. Speaking perhaps about love. But for me, the words convey something somewhat different.

Standing outside the most morose and honest of all places, you witness two aged men-both with grey flowing beards, disheveled rags, coarse skin and weathered faces. Mendicants.The creases on their faces reflect the stern lives they have experienced. Yet, the composure on their faces reflects a measure of equanimity that is hard to mirror.

The sun shines bright through the descending rain. It is only a slight drizzle, not enough to even drown the gurgle of the river in the distance. The wafting breeze throws up a slight nip and one of them asks the other for a smoke. They are stretched languidly upon the damp grass, across the cobbled path from each other, contemplating the expressions of the other.

The response is a firm no. The reason is the accusation of parsimony. The beseecher falls silent, visibly crestfallen. The would-be benefactor rolls a beedi across his fingers, relishing its rough texture and makes to light it. Then pauses. Digs into his pocket. Fishes out another beedi, looks wistfully at it, pulls himself onto his feet and walks across. He doesn’t say a word, but the smile on his face as he lights the two with a single match conveys it all.

To the outside world, they are old and battered. But not, perhaps, to each other. Perhaps they know each other as they always were. Perhaps they know each other’s hearts, share private jokes, remember feuds and secrets, griefs and joys. For this moment, if not in others, they are brothers. They shall never grow old in each others eyes, always remain the mischievous, timid, protective confidants that they always have been. They live outside the touch of time. 

To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
 And the temples of his Gods.