[Essence of Life] Inaperçu

He’s eagerly awaiting me every Saturday evening. His crooked fingers rest on the dusty edge of the bench at Race Course Park. The only bag he possesses contains his driving license, a blanket, a pair of moth-eaten clothes and meager money. The timeworn face and the blood-flecked eyes turn jovial and sparkling as he watches me park my scooter by the road. Behind those eyes, there is a history of suffering and a long struggle. I have made it a habit to visit him in the shade of every Saturday.

It was in March 2013 when I first met the old man. Our team of students had been researching about problems faced by Senior Citizens as a part of our First Lego League Social Initiative. I had been assigned to survey 20 senior citizens around the Race Course Park in the city- a place frequently flocked by the elderly. After surveying about 10 to 15 seniors that were in groups, I approached this lonely man sitting on a corner bench. I wasn’t aware about the extreme darkness behind those winter-white hair. It took time to explain him my purpose. Initially, he denied answering my questions. He seemed rather frightened. When he realized I was there to help him, he started to cry over my shoulders. With a fragile yet powerful voice, he narrated his story. He said his land was acquired fraudulently by his brother; leaving him helpless. No law procedures could claim it back. He was homeless and slept on those benches. In the daytime, he worked as a bus driver to earn his bread. With a desire to help him, I promised him a visit the next Saturday. However, I was terrified from within. His problem was too heavy to handle. Back at home, my parents were not convinced by his story. They tossed my emotional appeal in no time and warned me not to meet the old man again. I told my team members about the old man. Listening the story from me was not as impactful as hearing him out.

Without anyone’s consent and notice, I still keep visiting him every Saturday. It gives me immense satisfaction hearing his life story as it gives him an avenue to offload his life miseries. Interacting with me not only brings him a smile, but it also gives me life lessons about the unpredictability of our lives. After experiencing a week of luxury at home, the struggle I see in his eyes on every Saturday makes me appreciate my world and gives me a sense of purpose. As I move into college, I’m sure I will miss each Saturday. I hope his life gets any better.

Shyamal Anadkat
Shyamal Anadkat (a.k.a Zostale) is a student in Computer Engineering at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, USA. Innovation, creativity, and the art of critical thinking are few of the ingredients that craft his way of life. For the rest of his day, he enjoys gyming, playing lawn tennis, mixing music, and penning his thoughts even at 3 in the morning. His lifetime motto is 'to learn, progress, and serve’.