Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Old Storyteller

Every time the bus hit a pit, he could sense every nut and bolt vibrating. The whole structure just looked so fragile as if it could come down crumbling at any moment. All those years of journeying on the road had really taken a toll on the machine which had embraced it from its birth. Time and again, there would form a cloud of dust through which it would come out triumphant.

Inside, he sat restlessly counting every second. The smoke, sweat and dust had concocted to give a stifling ambiance. Every now and then, he kept licking his lips. The water in his bottle was hot and just couldn't quench his thirst. There was not even a single bird or animal to be seen outside. All that could be seen were some shrubs by the road side. And then there were these milestones.

"These summers can sometimes get onto your nerves. Drink some water."

He shifted his gaze from the window to look at the old man sitting beside him who had just offered him some water. The first thing he noticed about the man were his hard yellow nails. Had it not been for the water droplets which were sticking tenaciously to the surface of the container, he might have humbly denied the offer. He didn't like to familiarize with the strangers. But .the thirst got the better of him. As he drank he could feel every gulp of water going down his throat.

His thanks was greeted by a smile. A smile so genuine that it overshadowed the redness of tobacco and the cracked lips through which it emerged. The white hair, wrinkled skin and the eyes delivered a kind and gentle visage. It was his eyes that had beguiled him. The eyes of an old man.The eyes that had aged with him. Even his eyelids could not hide the world that those eyes had seen.

The happiness that he was exuding belied his appearance. He was not a man of great wealth but he looked as satisfied as the wealthiest. The summer heat had not had any effect on him. He was a man of this desert.

As they travelled  he told him about the terrain. And about the anecdotes peculiar to the desert. In his rustic vernacular he told him about the tree with the strings tied to its every branch. And about the temple with the orange flag on a distant hill, about the well which never dries. Even the time had stopped to hear him speak, reminiscing the past to which it was witness.

It was remarkable how that seemingly common man had etched his existence in his memory. After sometime his stop came and he stepped down.  And ahead he went towards his destination to meet some more strangers, to build another memory.

5 comments:

aditi said...

Good, but the old man was not as satisfied as the wealthiest. He was better off them as the "wealthiest" are never satisfied of their wealth.

Saucy said...

Hey it was nice description... Like the great storyteller authors... and your choice of second person perspective added to the beauty of ur story.
btw i know wat journey u were talking about. :P

Ankit Kala said...

@aditi: Yeah.. U r right.. Apparently the rich are endowed with every kind of wealth except 'santosh dhan' :) ..

@telly: i m glad that i was able to create an imagery.. i had always wanted to do that in a short story..

@saucy: the only thing I took from that story was the 'nuts and bolt' thing.. i took description of ambiance from other journeys that i had in the past.. but except these 2 things, everything else is really a fiction :)

suruchi said...

Oh wow Ankit...
You write fiction too...and write it so well...
Bringing to life the sketch and characters...
I liked an expression so terribly*meaning extremely here* much that I am quoting it to u:
“Even his eyelids could not hide the world that those eyes had seen.”
Clap, clap...very well written post!
Sometimes the simplest of things do make the most spectacular of impressions:-)

Ankit Kala said...

@suruchi: Thanks for the generous appreciation :)
You are right.. Sometimes the simplest of things can become most telling subjects..