The Old Gentleman
Updated: Jun 22, 2019
I was standing in the queue to get my ticket and I saw an old gentleman, right ahead. Upon buying the ticket, he moved away and I saw his face - very calm. Dressed in white mundu and white shirt, he wore a hat and his white beard and wrinkles on his face gave his age. He walked past me and got into the ferry that I embarked in as well. For some reason, I felt a vibe from him and I decided sit two rows behind him to observe him.
The ferry ride from Ernakulam to Mattancherry is about 30 minutes long, with a pit stops at Wellington Island and Fort Kochi. During the entire course of the journey, he sat there quite, gazing out through the window and I’m pretty sure he dozed off as well for some time.
As the ferry approached Fort Kochi and most people disembarked the ferry, the old gentleman slide himself to sit by the window. He again gazed outside, at the people getting off the ferry, the kids who held their mother’s hands, the girls who laughed at the guys who walked past by. But he just sat there, motionless and look at them.
Observing him for some time now, his tired eyes conveyed things to this world. I didn’t really make a move towards him or initiated a conversation, though I really wanted to. I didn't know what his name was or what he does or where he lived or the count of his grandchildren. But I knew one thing, this gentleman was someone who has seen things, someone who has been through times that has been in his favour and those of that hasn't been in his favour. His eyes spoke a magical language that most of us fail to understand, that most of us haven’t seen, but, a language that most of us want to know and learn.
I got up, dusted my butt and prepared to disembark the ferry as it approached my destination. As I stood next to him, at the exit, I suddenly felt him clinging on to hand. The strong grip of his conveyed the difficulty and helplessness that he was facing due to his age - he was unable to get up from the seat on his own and needed someone's help and I was standing right there, whose help he sought.
He stood up and balanced himself, while he still held my hand. He looked at me and smiled. And I understood what that smile meant. I sensed an immense consciousness of gratitude.
For a moment, it felt like I knew him all my life.
For a moment, it felt like he was related to me.
For a moment, it felt like he was the grandfather that I never had.
For a moment, all of this felt like a dream.
As the ferry approached the dock, he disembarked and slowly released his grip. He walked in front of me with his umbrella for his support. I stood there motionless looking at him walking in front of me. I stood there frozen experiencing a kind of emotion that I words couldn't express.