Ah, look at all the lonely people!
April 1, 2013 12 Comments
An alien looking down from outer space will definitely give the place a second look. He will see this green patch in the midst of a concrete jungle, with two concentric circles running at the outer limit of the patch. The alien would probably focus down and come to the conclusion that the place is some sort of holy ground. For, he would see scores of people, running or walking in these concentric circles. Curiouser and curiouser, the ones in the inner circle would be going in counter clockwise direction, while the outer travel clockwise. Clearly the inner ones are more venerable and deserve a higher status in this religious ritual.
The alien of course is wrong. This is just a neighborhood park, where hundreds walk and jog on the tracks, to try and achieve some sort of health nirvana. The hope being that the longer you walk, the more fit you are and the longer one shall live. Some like me come to work off a couple of decades of excesses, as I traveled much, exercised little and ate all sorts of hotel food at ungodly hours. A balance in the scale of comfort is achieved over the course of a lifetime. If you do not look after your body, then it means more pain later in life -whether though illness or hard exercise is a toss-up.
Even in this park there come some, who are there for a fringe benefit rather than health itself. They come looking for diversion, company and to connect to a world, which seems to have forgotten and passed them by. These are the ones who are lonely in their homes, offices and life’s daily ritual…for they are facing a test which humanity is grappling with more and more, as life becomes urban, commercial and the span increases.
As I walk and jog in my daily effort, one of my pastimes and distractions is to notice these people and build stories around their life. It is an insightful way to while away the minutes, as one day soon, I too will face this battle and it is better to come prepared.
“Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door, who is it for? All the lonely people”
She walks around in a determined style, and the grace is still there. Flowing and let free behind her is her white hair. Along with the fine lines, still visible on her face, and her purposeful stride, she gives the image of a Shakespearean dramatic character. Need I say more? Lo! you catch her eye she will look away and deliberately ignores one. This beauty of yester years is tired of the world and wants to have nothing to do with it. Each day she gets up, puts on her face and goes out to face the world. A world old and jaded and she has little left to say, her enthusiasm long dissipated. What tragedies and pains have brought her to this pass; she could have a bevy of young grandchildren surrounding her, pampering and caring for her every need. It is indeed sad to note.
“Father Mckenzie writing the words of a sermon, that no one will hear! no one comes near”
I come across another person. He used to be the CEO of a large organization just 15 years ago. People hung on to his lead and words. They came to listen and follow his orders. Some smiled when he looked at them. Others lowered their eyes. Now he looks around as he trundles in the park. His walk is a slouch of old age and he knows his time has gone. His eyes beg askance for someone to talk to him, just someone, to give him a little bit of time and notice. Alas all, including myself want to avoid him, as his pace is slow and conversation out of date. He has much to tell of his experience and knowledge.
“Father Mckenzie wiping the dirt from his hand, as he walks from grave, no one was saved”
Then the huge, fat man; I remember he was a private equity guy and invested money at hard returns to people. He drove his bargains and had his pound of flesh. But he never reckoned with a global recession and being side lined. So he tramps like a giant with a cigar in his mouth. He does not care about what the world is doing to him, he has long made peace with himself and reconciled to living alone and indifferent. The fat man is different from the other two…he has lost, but is defiant. He has washed his hands off people. Only people do know he has lost and when he is gone they snigger behind his back.
But in all this gloom there is a family I see. Man, wife and a teenager. Holding hands, laughing, walking together; Soft! The son is mentally challenged and the parents hold his hand lovingly. They have made a life out of their tragedy. There laughter and life fills the park and makes one feel that even the lonely desperate people have a place. Most of all they give hope to all of us, that this is a life worth making and living. Bless them!
*Based on the song Eleanor Rigby, by Beatles and several walks in the park.