One late afternoon, I had nothing to do. I had just finished re-reading Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the sea”. I couldn’t hold my thoughts and there were visions thinking how the Old man could spend three days and nights deep into the ocean with sharks constantly hitting him and the big fish he had caught after a long struggle. I smiled away at certain thought of myself. The weather was fine. It had been like this in this place since I came. Quite sunny sometimes but all the more it was pleasing after the week of cloudiness shade. I was gazing out of my window. I could well get the view of the whole neighborhood block from the 3 by 5 hole. My apartment is on the third floor of a well founded building.
Various thoughts kept raging in my mind as i blankly gazed pass the neighborhood. But then I shook myself up. I could now see a small boy, learning to ride a bicycle. He might have been ten years or a little more, but he could not have been more than eleven. He lifted the bicycle, raised himself on a pile of bricks. He positioned himself and sat on it. He was full of enthusiasm and passion, I could see. Big eyes, unruly brown hair, looked very athletic even in his tender age. He made his first thrust. He went pass the electric pole some four feet from the brick. Then, bamm!! he fell down. He gave a huge sigh and retraced the trial again. Again, and Again, and Again he tried. God, He was hurt. But his morale was not, I could see. After a score and half a dozen more trials, he could slid a little more than what he could achieve till then. Of course he fell down. But he gave a huge grin as he looked back how far he came from the starting point. Satisfaction gleamed all over him. But it was not over. He started all over again.
I lifted my eyes to the Grey colored apartment building across the street just diagonal to mine, but it was a couple of floors lower. There was this girl on the phone. I just gazed at her. I tried to think over what she might be talking about. I was not prying into her privacy or something, and was well being justified as I could not hear her. My only crime was that I was looking at a girl without her permission. She might have been talking to her boyfriend, they might have had a fight last evening. She might have been talking to her friend, they might have been planning on tomorrow’s shopping. She might have been complaining to another friend about her parents denial of freedom to her. She might have been talking to her sister about her family and their well being. She might have been advising her kid brother about girlfriend and dates, or about his studies, or about his pocket money. I now desperately wanted to know what it was all about. But how could I. I just had to keep my thoughts cut open, with no solutions or answer.
I blinked, and my eyes went to a mother giving a bath to her infant boy. The love and care that could be seen her eyes was priceless. My thoughts drifted to my own mother. How she cared for me, and how she continues to do it so. It has been twenty two years and I could still see and feel the same fervor of perpetual love from her. I couldn’t comprehend the source of such ever-flowing compassion and love on me, and at that point it was about the child I could see. Every man, irrespective of anything, is so blessed to have come from a mother and not any other. I closed my eyes for a moment, and thought about my mom, and also my Dad too.
Then my vision cleared through the window of another apartment. There was this boy, in his late teens, with a huge headphone, almost engulfing him. He must have probably been listening to some punk rock or maybe some heavy trash metal, or who knows it might have been some classical overtures of Beethoven or Mozart. But the way in which his head banged with the music made it clear that it would be some Iron Maiden or Metallica. It wouldn’t be Pink Floyd or Pearl Jam, the head motion was not in their rhythm. I then thought about his probable struggles with his parents. He might have been thinking about the generation gap and how his parents cannot understand him. Or maybe he was not thinking at all. And maybe I was right. He just went on and on banging his head. I was nauseated at the thought of continuously shaking my head this way. It was a crime to ones head, I thought.
Then it was on the terrace of my adjacent building which was a floor lower than mine, I saw a well aged man, reading away the days newspaper. It was already 4 PM in the afternoon, but still he was holding on to the paper. I bet it was, say maybe the third or fourth time he is going through it. Maybe he found something very interesting that needed to be read a dozen times, maybe it is about the market crashing and stock points going lower each day, or maybe it was the nuclear deal, or maybe it was the new pension scheme that was introduced, or maybe the 4 o’clock paper reading was just a habit which he decided today to do at the terrace. I couldn’t remember well about the lifespan in India. I think it is somewhere 60-70 years. I always wondered whether I would way cross this defined age limit. But seeing this man, well beyond 70, made me even sure I would. I smiled and looked away, without much disturbing the man and his reading.
I then drifted to my own thoughts. How far I have come in this twenty two years. A boy who a few years back, never thought it was possible to come out of the well, from the comfort of the family, was staying in a big city all by himself, working, trying to understand the working of the world. Independence was what he had achieved, at least for now. I then thought of all the people I am indebted to. All the people that constantly think about me, my parents, my brothers and sister, my granny and grandpa. I don’t say that others don’t think about me or something like that, but just that they told me they do.
I looked up to the sky. The clouds were getting darker. It was 6 O’Clock. I had been looking out through my window for a good two hours and God! I think a lot. I searched for the bicycle kid, he was no where to be seen. Maybe he had learnt how to ride and was exploring new tricks on it. Neither could I see the girl on the phone. Maybe she had finished all the words in her mind and was thinking what to speak next. The mother and the child had finished bathing long back. I did notice that earlier. But they were out again on the terrace with the mother holding her child with the same affection she had. I could have kept on looking at them, but I had places to go and things to be done, so had to stop thinking. The old one was not there either. Maybe the reading quota for the day was over.
I looked down at the street, I could see families hurrying back into their homes. Children shouting around in happiness and glee. The women collecting the clothes kept for drying, and the pickles for cooking it in the sun’s heat. There was commotion everywhere as people were getting ready for the rain yet again. I smiled at myself and drifted back to the thoughts of the Old man that went into the ocean to catch the big fish, and the fish really was eighteen feet, Hemingway did record it.
I withdrew myself from the window, took an umbrella, and went for a walk, a long walk all alone in the rains, yet thinking.