Today morning nine o clock, I was sitting in a bus that takes me to my office. I normally don’t like people who get deafened by loud earphones and don’t like to be one. But today something made me carry earphones with me and I thought to give it a try. By the time I could decide upon the number, I heard two old gentlemen talking right in front of me. That conversation did not let me hear songs. I preferred to eavesdrop what they were talking. It would be very gentle term if I call it as just a conversation. It was more than a conversation; it was an outburst of being helpless, regret of being shackled to old age and any more superlatives would suffice their distress.
The conversation began with the old man on my right side saying “Forgetfulness! These days I forget everything. Is it common to everybody who gets old?” The other gentleman nodded his head in consent. The gentleman on the right side said,
“I don’t really like to depend on somebody. I always wanted to be independent, but these days I’m finding it hard to do what I want to, on my own.”
For most of the conversation the gentleman on the left side either shook his head or mumbled something. It was the old man on the right who did all the talking.
“It is better to find some old age homes for us. At least there we find some people who can take care of us. The concept of joint family is all gone. Even in a joint family, we are being used as babysitters. For six months we have to stay with them to take care of their children. The other six months we have to stay alone.”
After ensuring that he did not miss his stop he continued,
“People vent out all their angers on us. Just because we are weak and aged,we are incapable of being on our own we have no other go, but to listen to whatever they spill out of their mouth.”
He turned back and looked at me to check if I was hearing him talk. The earphones made him believe that I was not overhearing them. The old man continued,
“Everything is because of this software companies. People have started earning so much money early in their career. We see this much money only when we retire. Youngsters these days have become independent. In our days people get government jobs with meagre salary. Software companies have totally destroyed the culture in this country.”
He again looked back at me and said,
“Last Friday night at one o clock in the night, my wife suddenly fell sick and I had to come out of home to get some medicines. There was a bunch of boys and girls here...”, the old man tried his best to dust his memory out.
The other old gentleman tried to define ‘here’ by asking whether it was bus stand. After a bit of struggle the old man on the right clarified that it was near Sutherland at Velachery and continued,
“A bunch of boys and girls were just laughing and enjoying like anything.”
He reiterated the words ‘one o clock’ at least five times, if my math is correct. He asked the conductor if he had reached his stop. The conductor confirmed him that he has reached his destination. He gave a smile that meant his helplessness and bade good bye to his peer.
P.S. Though the old man on the right side was not always on the ‘right side’, the words he spoke were etched in my mind; it kept me awake till midnight and also made me post it in my blog in the wee hours of the night!