Sometimes you find a story in the strangest of places. Yesterday I met a strange old man at the corner of a street. Well spoken and bespectacled, he seemed to be from a decent background but a flirt at heart at sixty! He had a mesmerized audience of two teenage girls, who seemed charmed by him and thoroughly amused. A friend had told me about the man and I got lucky to have walked into him.
He was boyishly charming with confidence that only I assume age bestows and utterly hard to ignore. I humored him and his flirtation, slightly flattered and flustered at the same time. It amazed me how he did not put me off completely as a creepy old man. I haven’t seen a freer soul if possible. A man who walks to his own tune. But it was the generosity of his spirit with which he fed every dog on that street food that he carried from home. He won me over in a heartbeat. Dogs know good souls. 🙂
Till then I had not paid attention to a word he had said dismissing it all as the ramblings of an old fool. As I sat there on the steps of that popular deli, I watched this man strike a conversation with every soul that passed by like he had known them for ages. Just anybody. Including yours truly. He spoke from his heart about the inane and the important alike.
And suddenly I paid attention to what he was saying. He was talking about world events, his experiences, his love for dogs, so many things.He made people buy him a quarter of whisky and sent someone else to fetch some cigarettes. I suspect he is allowed neither. He asked the boy in the deli to fetch him a paper cup and someone else to pick up the ice. He drank right there on the sidewalk- neat on the rocks. To the passerby, he could very well have been a drunk old creep. But I spoke to him, he made sense to me. He was well spoken, well informed and well read. Well traveled too maybe. I heard his stories, they sounded like a tangled web. Based on factual events and yet the random ramblings of a old man.
As I got up to leave, he took my leave respectfully. As I walked away, I had a million thoughts shooting through my mind. A million questions. Who was he? What was his story? Was he some retired old government officer who didn’t have a better way to spend his retirement? Was he a brilliant man who had lost his mind due to some tragedy and bordering on delusional? Was there some sadness he was hiding? Or was he just a happy, free soul with not a worry in the world? Will I ever see him again?
Yes I walked away, with a million thoughts and even more questions on my mind. A million thoughts on my mind and a smile on my lips. Yes I thought to myself, sometimes, you do find a story in the strangest places…