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The old man

I’m in a mood to ramble. More than ever. 3rd post in a span of 5 hours? Never happened before. I was blog hopping and ended up reading this blog end to end. Some very very cool posts. This particular post reminded me something that happened to me once in Hyderabad.

I was living in Maradpally. As usual, took a cab home at around 8. Its a long drive home from office. So it was about 9ish when I got to Maradpally. I got off at the end of the lane cos I needed to pick up something from the supermarket. Hyderabad is a safe city. I’ve taken an auto back with Roomie at 2 in the morning and fought with the auto-driver over spiked auto meter, loudly at that. Its not something I’d ever dream of doing in Madras. In fact, I don’t think I’ve travelled in an auto past 9pm here. Getting back to the story, the road that led to my house from the supermarket was poorly lit as always. Under the lone streetlight on the narrow road, there was an abandoned TVS 50 and lying next to it was an old man. My first impulse was that there had been an accident. I slowly moved towards the man unsure of what to do really. But as I moved closer, I realised he was mumbling something undecipherable in a language I didn’t recognise. I stood right there for a full minute unsure of my next move. People kept going past us. A few gave me a second glance. More out of curiosity, I guess. Just as I unscrewing the cap of my water bottle to sprinkle some water on his face, another gentleman stopped. He seemed like my grandpa. Same kind eyes and laid back attire of going for a leisure evening walk. He looked at me questioningly and I shrugged saying I don’t know what happened to the old man. He moved closer and the stench of alcohol hit him. He signaled for me to move away and keep walking. ‘He just drunk,’ he said, very casually. I kept standing there cos he wasn’t exactly young and I wasn’t sure how he would lift the drunk man up. I didn’t feel right about leaving him alone.

In all this, the drunk old man woke up and tried to roll over and stand up. In this process, another bottle of alcohol rolled out of his pant pocket sounding wicked as it rolled over on the gravel. Even in his drunken stupor he felt about for his precious bottle and refused to be helped up without it. I still stood rooted to the same spot, in shock. The other gentleman kept signalling for me to leave and gave me an encouraging smile. I walked away, unable to grasp the gravity of what I just saw. People kept walking past, wrapped up in their world, refusing to help a man struggling with a stubborn drunk. Maybe this old man’s world was a small one too, just him and his bottle.

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11 thoughts on “The old man

  1. Thank you! That’s the nicest thing anyone has said to me in ages. 🙂

    So many stories like this – but somehow I’m sensing a change in how people react to situations… more and more.

    and I just hope this change continues!

  2. My tamil sir once told our class:

    You can help any one in distress but don’t ever lend a helping hand to the drunk for

    1. He doesn’t deserve it
    2. That’s the safest place for him and others on road that night
    3. He would know that there would be some one to help him always and hence repeats the mistake.

    I agreed that day and I still do!

  3. Hmm…this post reminded me of a story too.. I was with my cousin and this old lady came to me with a medical bill, asking me to pay for her medicines..She looked so pathetically old and worn out that I almost gave me whatever little I had. Then the chat store-wallah stopped me, and said that she had been doing this for the past five years. Each day someone paid and she got drunk and fell on the street. Sad, but India has lots of such old drunk people stories…

    Nice post…

    Thanks! I know what you mean. There used to be this woman outside my college who used to stand outside my college with a baby and ask people for money to buy medicines. It was a total hoax and she used to be there every other week! You lose faith in general goodness when this repeatedly happens.

  4. This reminds me of another kind of people, who beg by giving an excuse of having come from very far and having lost everything. Very cogently, they try to trap you with their sorry-ass fairy tales and plunder you. I’ve seen enough of the kind to lose trust in such requests. Now, even if such a person were genuinely in trouble, I wouldn’t believe him. And believe me, such people are not confined to India, even here in the US you find such frauds. Only, they rob you in dollars, which kinda stings more than the rupee does. A dollar costs 50 rupees you know! :-/

    I know what you mean! losing faith in general goodness is not cool at all 😦

  5. Very well written… in fact, I could almost visualise the entire scene…

    But I agree with most of the respondents, in India, one will find many such con men and women who will beg for money and squander it away on vices like drugs and drinks.

    Thank you! But I don’t think this is a country specific issue. You’ll find conmen and vagabonds in every part of the world. Just the degree varies, i suppose

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