Highway tales! – Story of a Maratha growing old gracefully!
His cattle were gazing under the bright sunlight in a hot summer day.While passing by him on one of the State-Highway in the Konkan area of Maharashtra, something made me stop.He was sitting under the shade and was alertly taking care of his cattle, I got out of my air conditioned car and took a few steps towards him.His hands glued firmly to greet ” Namaskaara” with his feeble and shaken voice; I was wondering why he gave me that heartfelt welcome-gesture for the fact that even I was a just another ordinary living being as he was!I hit a conversation to find he was 72 years old, and still working hard in the agricultural fields for his living and being actively supported by his beloved wife taking care of the household chores.Our chat continued, with every word coming from him pushed me to take a journey back to my early childhood days being spent with my grandfather in a remote Himachali village.I pulled out water from my car to offer him, guess I wanted him to converse for few hours but in turn I found him for being far more interested than me to speaking out those poignant sufferings over the years with his moist eyes constantly gazing at me!I had no answer to his question-Why his only son left him & the mother and didn’t happen to maintain any contact for all these years!He gulped a sip of water and amazed me how he managed to arrange financial aid to send his son to a far off city to get settled in life!While all this was in pursuit, his voice struggled to take a passage of the outside world, the words stood somewhere in between his mind and heart, but I understood what he wanted to convey.It might have been years since he must have spoken his heart out to anyone; I felt privileged to lend my ears and sharing some moments of comfort.I knew the best I could do was to embrace him, I felt an unbound warmth in the hug.While taking a silent walk reaching to my car; I took a look-back at him- He was wiping away his tears like the same way he must have done for last so many years!Rushing instantly towards him I uttered- “ Aazoba (Grandfather in Marathi)- I want you to stay happy and live gracefully, You have lived a beautiful and audacious life to its true essence by believing in “KARMA”, to which his eyes sparkled, tears vanished and smile poured in”
Touching his feet for blessings to be bestowed;I moved ahead on the highway pondering over the fact that the eyes of a Maratha that have seen mammoth of struggle were still so bright and full of life!I have travelled and crossed this Spot many a times in a quest of finding this old man in a much contended and relaxed soul with a news of his son must have lately visited him.My eyes search for him while I take a halt under the shade of the tree.
No Wonder; A man growing old becomes a child again but sadly at times there are no parents to take care of this child! Such an Irony!