14 Apr 2016


He looks like he is a hundred years old, and I doubt he can see properly despite the thick soda-butty glasses that cover half his face; there are decade-old wrinkles that hang forlornly over his peering eyes. 

He ties a thin red towel over his forehead like a turban. It gives him little protection from the fierce morning sun but it has to do, I suppose. He is always dressed in a white shirt and dhoti, except the white is now an old, worn-out grey and the cloth is quite threadbare. The stick he carries is almost as tall as him and thick as my arm; he puts it out first with a shaky hand (I’m almost certain that he has Parkinson’s) and then wobbles forward a step. 

Stick, wobble, repeat. Stick, wobble, repeat. 

Every morning, at the Koramangala 3rd block signal, he waits for the light to turn red and then wobbles from car window to bike pillion, asking for alms. I once gave him ten rupees and he blessed me in Urdu – I know just enough Urdu to understand his goodwill. 

I’m inclined to think of his possibly useless, good-for-nothing offspring who refused to take their father in when he needs them the most. There is also the possibility that they spent their childhood trying, in vain, to protect their frail mother from the drunken wrath of their useless father. I’ll never know, will I? 

But. Such is human nature for there isn’t a day that I pass him by that I don’t force tears back down my throat and wonder where Abbujaan sleeps at night.