I look out of the big window in my room at the sunset. Dusk is approaching. I am lonely. I have no family. I do not have neighbours either because in an overcrowded city, strangers live together to open and immediately shut the doors on each other’s faces with a violent bang of insecure hostility. Everybody wants his private space. I have too much of it! I am an old forgotten man, a regressive burden in a progressive society who is a social embarrassment to his own family.
No, I have not failed in carrying out my responsibilities. I brought up two sons with a lot of care and affection. I did whatever I could as a father. Things started going wrong after my retirement. I suffered from depression and isolated myself from my social circle, something that my elder son did not like.
But even he got so busy with his life that he did not have any time for me. I did not expect much from him but a few minutes of his company every day. Was that asking for too much? The loneliness of retirement only worsened. My other son who is in the US does the rare favour of sending me an email once in a blue moon.
At present, I have none but loneliness for my company. My son has lately been exceptionally worried about my health because the doctor (this man keeps frightening me with names of dreadful diseases every time I sneeze) has communicated to him that my health needs constant monitoring. My wife passed away many years ago and my son believes that my health would recover in the best possible way in some sophisticated old-age home outside the city. ‘Dad, you will have friends of your age and cultural background there. Moreover with all the yoga classes, swimming and table tennis sessions out there, you are bound to have a nice time,’ my son convinced me two weeks ago.
I am shocked out of my reverie by the sudden screeching of a car. I look down out of my window. My son has come. It is time to make the final shift to the old-age home. The son comes to my room and says, ‘Dad, are you ready? Give me your bag.’ He walks away. I leave my companions of the last eight years—the walls, the pictures and the window opening to the lonely banyan tree in the lane.
I have already packed the photographs of my wife and my sons. But I know not why I feel as if the room did not want me to leave. An old man and his old thoughts!
My heart cried as if to say, ‘Son, let me be here. I like this room. I like that window, that huge opening to the charming sky. Do not push me away. I want to be with you. I promise not to bore you!’
But the words stuck in my throat. The son shall not understand. As I walk after him, I remember bathing, drying, feeding and teaching him. It seems just like yesterday. Time flies! The son cannot read my eyes, the eyes of his father! The car moves towards the old-age home. My son will not understand till he is an old father in a lonely room.