Tsunami And The Old Man
Tsunami And The Old Man16 mins 16.2K 16 mins 16.2K
“THIS EVENING IS BRILLIANT, RIGHT?” The old man said to his wife, who was sitting next to him in the beach sand. They both had come to Juhu beach, not for an evening walk but to take shelter today night. They didn’t have any idea where they were going to stay tomorrow.
“Yes Krish, I have never heard the soothing sound of waves. It’s like gentle whispers. See how beautifully it is raising and falling down. It’s wonderful, I feel like keep watching it,” the old woman said. She wore a brown cotton sari with black border. Her wrinkles smeared face was still agile and shining. Her ears were somewhat long and broad, but she didn’t wear any golden ornaments. Her hands were empty without bangles, but she had one silver ring in her right hand. It was her engagement ring, she was happy that she didn’t lose it in the storm of life.
“Yeah, that’s really good,” the old man shook his head, watching the waves, which ran towards their feet and took blessings from them, as if the waves knew how to respect the elders. But the old lady didn’t pull her legs in, instead she let it go, as the water washed her feet and was drawn back. You could see the yellowish beach sand soaked with water and it looked like a golden carpet laid before them.
The old lady suddenly cried. She didn’t have kerchief, but used the edge of her sari to cover her mouth as if to hide her face from others seeing her. Few couples passed them holding their hands on their waist, but they thought the old fellows were enjoying this pleasant evening. Maybe they are reliving their old memories now, they thought. But God alone knew what was the pain buried in their deepest hearts.
“Hey Gowri, relax. I know why you are crying. But we can’t do anything about it,” the old man said, as he lowered his head to see his wife. Yes, their son Jitinder and daughter-in-law had tossed them out of their house as if they were expired food items. He wasn’t shocked for they had pushed them out, but his heart was crushed like a lemon when his son had told him that they had become patients to spread diseases to their children. 'You could have killed us, instead of speaking like this', the old man thought. Everything was going good until he had suffered from coughing fit for last five days, the doctor said it had happened due to season change and suggested him to take hot water instead of cold water and had written down few medicines to cure him.
They had a separate bedroom inside the house, so the old man lay on his bed and took rest. But his grandson Nishodh had come inside the bedroom and asked him to tell stories. The old man had a habit of telling stories to him, but he was tired today. He asked his grandson to bring him tumbler full of hot water. Nishodh said okay and went to the kitchen and told his mother that grandpa had requested hot water. That was it.
She had put down the vessels on the floor and shouted, "I am not a cook to serve them. If they wanted let them prepare it for themselves," she said in a blaring voice. The old man could hear it. The old lady, who had heard all this in bathroom, had cried for half an hour before she came out with her puffed eyes.
The next day before taking the breakfast, his son had placed two lakh rupees on the dining table, and slowly pushed it to his father, who sat opposite to him in the wooden chair, he was waiting for the breakfast to come but it didn’t come. He was surprised to see the money instead of the bread rolls. He asked why? His son stroked his chin slowly and said, ‘You both can become free birds. I think you understood what I meant?’ The old lady’s lips trembled when she had heard this and she came down to beat his son with her fisted hands. But when her hands were raised, thye didn’t move at all.
Her daughter-in-law seized her hand and pushed her on the floor. She fell and her spine was knocked hard and it gave a stout pain to her. On seeing this, the old man didn’t rush to lift his wife, but stayed in his seat. "What are you talking about? Have you lost your senses?", the old man said, as his eyes grew like saucers. "This house is not for patients. You can go and stay in hospital permanently," his daughter-in-law said sarcastically. "You………….."the old man said, but his wife interrupted him. "Krish don’t see their eyes. They would burn you. Get out of this hell immediately," she screamed in pain.
Now on the beach, the old woman tossed her head high, “You know why I am crying. Don’t you? I have never thought our son would do like this. I thought he would support us, even though his wife was against us. What wrong we did to them? We had sacrificed our life for him? Was that wrong?” she said as tears didn’t stop running down her cheeks.
“I don’t want to talk about it. The more I talk, the more pain I get in my heart. No, I am not going to talk about it,” the old man shook his head thoughtfully, his head was hung low.
A small boy came down that way with a small rectangular box full of ice creams. He raised his voice to draw the customers to buy it. When he met the elders, he had smiled at them and asked to buy some ice creams.
“Krish, would you buy this for me?” the old woman asked him.
The old man eagerly wanted to fulfill her desire, because she hadn’t asked him anything for last ten years. Even if she had asked him to buy something it was definitely for Nishodh, their grandson. Though he had no more control over his bank account, his son would give him petty amount as his pocket money as if he was a kid. But Krish had never opposed him, he was happy to give anything he had (including the property, jewels and everything) to his son with a smiling face. After all he was his father. He had used this petty amount to buy toys for his grandson and small granddaughter Nikita.
He ran his fingers over his shirt pocket but he found only eight rupees, one five rupee coin and three one rupee coins. He looked at the small boy and said, “How much is the ice cream?”
“It is fifteen rupees,” the boy said.
The old woman knew he was short of money and said to the boy, “You can go. We will eat ice cream later sometime.”
“What happened? Don’t you have change? Don’t worry I will give you the change even if you give me two thousand rupee note,” the boy said and grinned.
A strong black horse was crossing them with a teenage girl on its saddle. She was smiling as her hair tossed from left to right as the sea wind blew. The horse was jogging on the wet beach sand as she had clenched her hands tightly on its reins. Her lover was taking pictures, while running behind her.
The old man didn’t speak and he hesitated to tell the truth. His wife said, “No, I don’t feel like eating it. I forgot he had cold,” she tried to put the boy on mute.
But the boy didn’t want to lose the chance of selling it either, “Then you can eat, no?” the boy said.
This time the old lady felt like beating across his face, her hands shivered. But she didn’t, “You get out of here,’ she said harshly.
The small boy heaved up his chest and threw an ugly look and walked away from there. He didn’t wear any sandals on his feet. The imprints of his feet could be clearly seen on the wet sandy beach.
The old woman wrung her hands around her husband’s left arm and leaned on his shoulder. She didn’t cry this time, but felt sad and tried to soothe him.
She knew how he felt offended in front of the small boy for not having a few rupees to buy a single ice cream. A moment she thought they would have taken those Rs.200000 offered by their son before they had left the house. But she detested this thought more than anything. No, I can even die in starvation than make a living out of that money, she thought and pushed her face against her husband’s chest.
The red glow of sun was slowly swallowed by the sea in the deepest horizon. The blue sky was slowly getting darker now. Few stars appeared on the sky and lit brightly, but not enough to arrest the darkness which was unfolding before their eyes.
The people who had come for evening walk and the elders who had breathed fresh air and lovers who came to share love talks and the children who were swinging bats to play cricket, all were getting back to their houses in groups. The old woman almost closed her eyes and slept for half an hour without even realizing that she was sleeping. Her head was lying on the old man’s lap. The old man didn’t know where to go. He wanted to eat. The hunger was biting his stomach. They didn’t eat lunch at noon, though they were lucky to have breakfast in the Amma hotel down the beach road.
The smell of fried spicy fish was wafting in the air, and induced hunger in him. His mouth was almost watering. Some people were taking bites of it and cherishing. The fluorescent lamps were turned on inside the shops which seated along the beach side and people were buying food items whatever they wanted.
Lot of them had brought cool drinks like Pepsi, Coke and Bovonto. The old man’s heart was thundered when he had seen elders enjoying their time with their grandchildren. He thought of his grandson Nishodh, as the old memories had rushed past his mind. He almost became homesick and felt like killing himself there. If he had a knife he would have stabbed himself and died there. Fortunately he didn’t have. He grabbed the wet sand in his hands and tossed at the waves as if he was cursing it. He prayed to God to give him a quick death. He muttered this prayer as clenched his teeth and looked above the sky. His eyes were fiery and threatening now. But his wife didn’t know anything about it. She was still sleeping on his lap, as if a child in the crib.
Within next few minutes, people had started hollering and scurrying across the beach in a frenzy way as if they had suddenly lost their memory where to go. But the old man was happy. He was still sitting down there. Yes, the waves had risen almost to the sky high in the close distance. The people had never seen such gigantic waves in their lives. They knew they were coming to swallow them up like thousands of crocodiles, opening their big mouths with long and sharp teeth.
The people who had swarmed around the food stalls and shopping stalls had rushed to save their lives now. Some ladies grabbed their children and put them on their waists and sped away to avoid this imminent danger. The children were squealing for not buying the snacks they had wanted, they didn’t know anything about the soaring waves which were coming forward to ruin them.
The vendors had pulled their cash drawers and grabbed whatever amount they could take in their hands, because they knew how much they had toiled to earn such pennies. The waves were crashing forward furiously. But the old man hadn’t risen up. He sat there like a mountain, unshakable. But he was shocked when his wife didn’t stir at all amidst this clamor. He slowly tried to shake her; his fingers were quivering as he clasped her shoulders and shook her gently. But there was no motion from her. His lap was weighing heavily as if he had a big boulder on it. He shook hard about her shoulders. This time her head slid off from his lap and fell on the sandy mud. Her eyes were blue and glistened like the dead goat’s. The sandy mud was sticking on her hair. He thought she was going to brush aside the sand in her hair, but she didn’t it.
A shuddering terror tread down his soul, he couldn’t still believe that she was dead. The Tsunami waves screaming and yelping with tremendous force while splashing the water like thunder had stuck now. The old man had craned his neck to see the waves. He had stood up now. He had nothing to lose in the world, he ran down to plunge himself into death. The waves were groaning and spinning in sinuous forms as came down in a lightning speed. He closed his eyes before it. He knew he was going to die. But he wasn’t afraid of it. He thought the waves were going to swallow him, but the gigantic waves had stopped before him as if God had given command over it.
Five seconds…..nothing happened….the old man eyes’ were still shut…..
Ten seconds……nothing happened….the old man eyes’ slowly opened to see why he wasn’t yet dead.
He was stunned to see the waves standing before him, but jerking to and fro like an eagle was in the air with its wings spread over.
“Come, kill me. Why are you waiting for?” the old man said in an angry voice.
“No I won’t kill you,” they responded in a thick but droning voice.
“Because I don’t see any reason why you should die. Did you ever see people standing here to confront me?” the waves asked in a clam but raspy voice.
The old man turned left and right and then back, he didn’t see anyone there. Not even a pug.
“No, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t kill me?” the old man said, his cheeks were drawn tighter.
“Wait. It won’t take me a second to swallow you. But tell me why you wanted to die?”
The old man gave a pungent look, he didn’t want to be questioned, “I have lost everything. Everything. You understand what I mean?”
“You want to die because your son had pushed you out of the house?”
The old man shrugged his shoulders.
“Who is that lady?” the wave asked, as it had pointed its finger which was formed out of the gigantic waves.
“She is my wife. She is dead. She is dead,” the old man started shedding tears, his torso was shaking badly. The grievance had stung his heart, as he ran down furiously to fall himself on the Tsunami waves and die. But these gigantic waves drew back and a hand came from it and pushed him back.
“Stay there. Don’t come near me. I am not going to kill you,” the wave said.
The old man was furious this time, “Who are you to save my life?”
The wave nodded and said in a calm but assuring voice, “I am the God of sea.”
“What?” the old man said, unbelieving what he had heard. “No, you must be joking,” he sniggered.
“You fool. Listen to me carefully. I gave a life to you. And I know when you should leave this earth. But trying to kill yourself only shows your cowardliness. Life can throw thousands of problems at your face, but you should show a mental strength and unflinching determination to solve these problems. That’s the way you have to live your life. But you……….” The wave said.
The old man’s anger was softened and his eyes were slightly quivered to look at the wave, “I don’t have any choice after my son had asked me to leave the house. Now my wife is also dead. Oh God, don’t give me this crummy philosophies now. Take me. I am not willing to live here anymore. This world is full of crocodiles. I have lost the battle. Take me with you.”
The wave moved to and fro with a swishing noise, “No, I don’t. See life is a battle. You have to show your strength to overcome it successfully, but you shouldn’t cower like a coward.”
“I am a coward. Take my life,” the old said in a high voice.
The wave rose high and slapped on his face, “You can’t. First you should destroy that thought from your memory. Show this world you can do anything even in this old age. You can do anything until your last breath. Go and show your son and daughter-in-law, that you are living peacefully without them. Don’t think your world is limited to your son and your grandchildren. Ever read Khalil Gibran books? Know this truth. Your children had come through you, but they are not belongs to you. It is just the nature’s way of sustaining things. Don’t you know Shakespeare told this world is nothing but drama? So, don’t take things seriously to your heart. I don’t think you have ever read Bhagavad Gita. At least when you had big problems, you should have read it. But you didn’t. Did you?”
The old man ducked his head.
“There is an opportunity in every adversity. Realize this truth, you never regret any more,” the wave said, the hands of the wave almost came close to pat the old man’s shoulder.
“But what this old fellow can do in this age?” he asked in a beseeching voice.
“When one door is closed, the other door is open for you. Look within yourself carefully and you will know what should be done. I know you have served as a banker, am I right?”
The old man shook his head reservedly.
“Who said the life of a man is over when he is retried from office? Who said you have to stop working after your retirement? The age limit is only for the person who is lazy. You can work until your soul fades away from your body. Why can’t you go and work as a cashier in some restaurant? Why can’t you go and work as a gardener in some rich houses? Why can’t you work as a social reformer to do some good for this society? Why can’t you join with homeless elders and build a new company. You see, your contribution to this country hasn’t stopped yet,” The wave said.
The old man’s mind reeled with so many positive thoughts now. Like new blood flowing in his body. He felt relaxed after a long time, more importantly some confidence had returned to him. He was happy to receive such positive energy at this age. He believed he could move ahead in his life. He was ready to face any kind of worst situations hurled at him by life. His eyes glowed like a campfire.
“Thanks. You have made me to realize the face of truth. I am indebted to you for this glorious talk. I am not going to die. Yes, I am not going to die like a coward. I respect this life. Even though I have lost my wife, I am inclined to live and do some good for this society. I am not going to worry about my son either. Nobody is going to hurt me without my permission, as Mahatma Gandhi said. Oh, I have realized the golden words now. Thank you,” the old man bent low and folded his hands before the Tsunami waves.
Before he opened his eyes and straightened his body, the gigantic waves were no more in the sea. It had become normal. In fact, the waves had again risen and fallen normally. And the waves slowly tread down and crashed on his feet and the foam was filled around his ankles. The small bubbles cracked. Yes, the old man already started enjoying his new life.