I was disturbed, devastated and confused. Nothing was making sense at that moment except for the old man, who I think was my angel in disguise.
He used to just sit there on the same bench every day surrounded by all the stray dogs of the street, probably of the other streets too. They just loved him, in this world, where they were habitual of being looked down upon; this man not only treated them well but also gave them love. He simply adored them. Not even a single dog missed the opportunity to be caressed by him. It was not just about the glucose biscuits he offered them; in fact, it was much more. Their love was evident. The fight for being his favorite was real. Every evening at 6pm, the dogs had a gathering near the bench with desperation in their eyes, waiting for unconditional love; waiting for the old man.
But then one fine day, the old man didn’t appear. It was around 7 and the dogs were still there, waiting, there was not even a sign of movement. There was a look of betrayal and abandonment in their almost drooped eyes. It was so overwhelming and painful to look at; I couldn’t help but buy some biscuits to serve them. I kept few glucose biscuits down in a hope that they will eat it but still no movement. In their mourning, I was uninvited -not even acknowledged. So, I tried to feed one of them in their mouth but he vehemently resisted, the look he gave me clearly said that he doesn’t want me or a biscuit as a consolation prize; he just wanted the old man.
I didn’t have him, so I reluctantly turned my back ready to leave, still feeling sorry, and then suddenly the dogs started barking. I looked behind and there the old man stood covered with dogs by all his sides, some were jumping on him, some were barking demanding an answer for his absence. The sight was worth everything. It was a scene of pure love and hearty get-together. With an involuntary smile, I marched towards the old man.
“Where were you, uncle? They were desperately waiting for you; they didn’t even eat the biscuits I offered them”
“I know Beta! My son succumbed himself to the god this morning, so was busy with all the processions. As soon as I came back home, I rushed here knowing that my other sons will be waiting for me”
I stood there speechless. My limited social skills didn’t guide me towards the appropriate reactions needed in such a situation. My judgmental self was trying to search a glimpse of grief, an aura of denial, a tinge of loss and a look of pain on his face, but there was none. There was just acceptance and immense love for his sons, the one who unfortunately died and the ones who were still licking and jumping on him.
Then finally, after an awkward few seconds, I gave him a small smile and nodded in understanding and maybe, a little sympathy.
He smiled back and called me near him. I obliged and walked towards him between the dogs. He then bowed down to pick up one of the biscuits and asked me to feed them and this time, they happily ate from my hands.
I cannot comprehend what I felt at that moment; it was not just a feeling but an experience of purity, love and power. The purity, love, and power of the old man, who cared enough for these dogs to come back during his period of grief and loss with sheer acceptance of reality.
I looked at him and smiled. He lovingly patted my head. It was probably the best blessing I’ve received in my life and then he asked, “Are you fine beta?”
“Never been better!” I said with a smile and left waving him a goodbye.
And that is when I realized that life keeps giving you something every moment, you should just be receptive enough to take it and suffice to say, after the incident, I just forgot everything that was troubling me.
Thank you old man 🙂