He is an old man ; by his own admission he is 92. Mr Santosh Kumar used to be a powerful Trade Union leader and a journalist of the old school. His forefathers had set up the first newspaper in Lahore. He is now turning frail but his spirit refuses to be smothered. His powerful booming voice still carries his convictions and can be heard across the open spaces. He lives with his daughter and her family. He is well looked after. He is now not allowed to go out on his own because he has fallen a couple of times. His favorite jaunts used to be to the pan wallah in the next lane or the Lodhi gardens to meet up with his old cronies. Now he is not allowed either. Now his interactions with people of all ages is n the balcony of the first floor.
He is an early bird and is up and about by 0500 hrs. Although he shuffles , the tap-tapping of his heavy stick provides him great mobility He makes his way to the balcony to enjoy the fresh air .By then Reshma is up and makes his tea and takes it out to where he is sitting . She must give him some sweet biscuits, no salted ones please!
I stood in the sitting room and watched while he waved out to a bunch of kids heading to school. They waved back and he blessed them with a prayer that they should study and work hard. A little later an elderly citizen passed by and wished him a loud ‘Namashkar’. A hearty response came from the balcony—loud and clear!
Another younger citizen passed by and wished him—“Chachaji kaise ho?” To which came the response—‘upar wale ki dua hai bhai!’(Grace of God!)
Now it is time for his shaving kit to come out along with the hot water. By now the newspaper has also landed on the balcony . He has it open on the headlines and scans it carefully. He does not need reading glasses . While he is shaving another voice from the road calls out “uncle”! He is happy to respond.
He is happy where he is , doing what he does. He has subdued his urge to step out and wander the streets, meeting people or talking to them. He misses his active life yet he loves an audience, someone to pay attention to his travel stories of far away exotic places. He does not fail to remind me that he has travelled to 35 countries and he has nine passports.
His wife of 60 odd years passed away a few years ago. He is lonely but he is happy with his situation.
A lot to be learnt for all unhappy, dissatisfied ,silver citizens who insist on pontificating to all and sundry. The young have no time and patience to listen to repetitive tales of yesteryears— enjoy their company and get back to your own pursuits as much as you can! So what if you have nothing better to do than eat and sleep, shave and bathe and be properly dressed and live out your life in comfort .