Following is the summary of the conversation with a 92 years young man at a cigarette shop, and he looked like he was in his early seventies. Me and my friends were smoking, and he was rolling his own cigarette, which he refused to share.

“Yet another day in the timeline where nothing happens, where being awake and waking up are not so different, and a point where one has read a million books that every book starts to seem like the previous. When you have lived for ninety-two years, then there’s no such thing as strange, and then even the bizarre is mundane. I may look old but still I ride my 30 years old scooter, I still grow some vegetables in my backyard, and I still smoke the hand-rolled cigarette, sure I use a cane while walking but it’s the lost command over my bladder that make me feel helpless. I couldn’t help but relive every night the same moment where my blood labelled me as ‘USELESS’, I guess it was because I shake a lot, sometimes it’s just an impulse and sometimes it’s one of the numerous reasons that keeps me awake at night. It’s not just the sad memories that keep me awake, sometimes I lie awake smiling over the good things that happened to me, and there are times when i feel happy over the thought of completing a century on this earth one day, but there are also times when I sob a little for the same thing. Forty years back we had orchards of mango trees where we used to sit every evening with the students that were going home and eat mangoes, and now all I do is sit in my room where I betray death every night and read the same kind of stories in different books. Those were different days, superstitions and paranormal were part of routine, home-made medicines and potions were the best cure, and even though the rate of killing a girl child were high, we all were afraid of our wives, I guess it’ll never change. If you ask me about the best thing in my younger days, then it would be the tea that an Englishman used to brew for me and him as we conversed for hours; I can still smell the aroma in my memories. At this age every person I witness dying is younger than me, and those nights are always the longest where I keep awake drenched in the cold sweat of growing death over me and at the same time thinking ‘Why not ME?’. I’ve seen a gazillion good things happen, acts of kindness, and some sort of miracles, but at night it’s almost always the bad stuff that my old brain meditate on. Up until my late sixties I used to have some books in my closet that I used to call my favourites, but at this point I have many piles of books and the concept of a favourite book is vanished, as I said earlier ‘MUNDANE’. The only things that managed to stay out of the ‘MUNDANE-ZONE’ are all associated with the love of my life that bade farewell twenty years ago in a boring death due lost immunity, my kids walked out of that zone when for the first time I had to eat in Indira Amma Bhojanalaya and sleep at the station because I was coming back to the house where me and my spouse spent the magical days of our lives. But I don’t hate my kids; I just believe that you don’t own them, they can choose not to fulfil my expectations, and it’s one great lesson that every soul is as lonely as it gets, along the way you will have some hands to hold and some people to hug, but in the end the only friends are nature, books and a cane. I’ve seen TVs going slim, letters getting replaced by telephones, old technologies getting replaced by new ones just like humans, all sorts of fashion, all kinds of people, destruction that came along many riots and development, and all kinds of things that wiped out the concept of ‘STRANGE’.”

And when we asked for one life lesson he would like to give us, he said, “Just being old doesn’t make me a philosopher. But just for the sake of all clichés in this world I would say that reality of life is different for every person.” And also, “Smoke in control and live forever, like me (wink).” And then he gave the warmest smile I’ve ever seen while bidding farewell. He rose up and was oddly straight for his age, walked without haste to his scooter which still looked like new, put his cane in the cane-holder which was a minor modification at the right side of his scooter, kick started the old machine with a little difficulty, then took off, and only while writing this I realised we never shared names.

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Abdul Razzaq

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