Man is a social being…claimed my social science text book.I slammed the book shut, with vehemence…I was irritated beyond reason by the line… “…group behavior plays an important part in his evolution…” I mean what is the real point of all this? For someone who never liked being ‘social’ this was an unnecessary bump on the road. Especially if you felt like the odd one out and never found your kind of people. The summer vacation stretched infinitely, it always does, at least in the beginning. The lock down just sucked all the colour out of it, no lonely walk by the empty plots or hike to the local hills, all were off the book. With no nature to explore I had nothing to do, and a lot of time.
Oh, don’t mistake me, I am a social being it’s just that, I couldn’t find my group there were lot of other kind of groups, which only heightened my sense of being an outside. I live in a flat and there are a lot of kids around, but none of them were my type, we kept away for each other, and the pandemic just helped this a bit more. I confined myself to my room and everyone, including my family, left me alone, for I was a known loner for some unknown reason.
You really can’t read forever if your eyes are not your strong points. Neither can you watch Netflix so bored and apparently jobless, I stared out of my window. My window looked out to a small old house with an over grown garden. Not your typical view, but then with each passing day, I caught myself staring out of the window, looking at the house. Every time I saw a new detail, few new branches, some new bird, a new noisy squirrel, and then one day an old man appeared in an easy chair in the verendha. I swear, I never saw him before, but there he was, old man in his old house, with its overgrown garden, like a relic.
So my story suddenly had a character, and consider this a side effect, I needed a story for the old man by the old house. How did he come there? Who was he? Was he some sort of a ghost? What if he was not actually there? What if only I can see him? As soon as these thoughts crossed my mind, I felt a chill. I cross checked this immediately by taking a photograph and asking my little sister to spot the old man out. When she did I was sure that my mind was not conjuring up things. Too much Netflix and you get scary thoughts inside your head.
But my mind ached to find out his story. As days passed I noticed that he had a set schedule, when the clock struck four he would come out of his old house and sit on his easy chair and stare in one particular direction, where there was a grand old tree. He was set in his ways so much that he became by lockdown clock. I no longer had to look at the clock when I saw him come out for I would automatically know it is four o’ clock! These old people and their routine. Later I noticed that sometimes his lips moved, as if he was talking to some silent presence. It gave me the next set of chills, but then it was a twist that I found intriguing. Who was he talking to? Dead wife? Or was it some guardian angel or God himself? Was he bonkers?
There was no one else around and nobody bothered him. He had no visitors except for the milkman and the newspaper boy and rarely the postman. The first two never bothered him unless it was the first day of every month. They gave him the bill and he gave them the money. No small talks or smile all business. The third one gave him some money after getting a paper signed. Probably a pensioner it seems. He was a direct contradiction to the statements I read about man being a social being. I felt a sense of companionship with him. He gave me hope, if I never find my kind of people then I can still live like him. For he seems to be managing quiet well.
Slowly we both settled into a routine of sorts. This routine of his and my routine attached to his continued. At first, I thought it was insane, what was the point of watching an old man. But then I thought I might end up like him so I might as well learn as much as I can from him. He was my live telecast of sorts, to the world of the living. I kept finding excuses to look out of my window at him. He became my silent companion, someone I could bare to spend time with, even though he was far below in the verandah of his house and I at the third floor of my tall flat, inside the comforts of my room.