There comes a time in a person’s life when you meet a complete stranger despite not feeling like they are. I go for walks regularly to FG’s and over the years I have met all kinds of people- the weirdos who keep following you, the smiley who smile at you for no reason (trust me, its creepy and not friendly), the motivators who truly motivate you to push yourself, the once in a while acquaintances and last but certainly not the least, them- the old, grandfather figure-kind strangers.
As you might have guessed by now, I have no grandparent which is probably the reason for having a soft corner for senior citizens. Yes, in today’s day and age there is probably no man or woman one should trust- sad but definitely true, but these ‘strangers’ are different.
One, a ‘Military Uncle’ as I fondly call him is as you guessed it, an ex-military person. He is old, has white hair, a big Amrish Puri type moustache and funnily reminds me of a leaner Santa Claus! It started with a formal smile, then proceeded to the daily wave and smile and then one day he spoke to me. It was not for asking my name or any personal detail, it was to teach me to walk properly! Yes, he is the person who taught me to walk properly- moving both the hands while brisk walking. I do not know what it was but when he gave this advice to a stranger like me, I took it. After all, there can be no harm from this, apart from the pain in the arm, literally! But I Googled and this is indeed the right way to walk.
Over the months, our interactions have not increased. I still do not know his name, he does not know mine. Nevertheless, I am sure he probably sees me too as a grand-daughter and gives me occasional advice on random things. They are old worldly, traditional as hell and make me smile- if my grandfather was alive, he would have been the exact same way.
Now this is one twist which I had never expected. After all, isn’t it always assumed that mentally challenged individuals look, well, mental? In this case, he was such an ordinary, regular looking old man; I would never have believed it if not for his wife. From that day, I believe my attitude towards life changed.
You never know when you go out to what level can a stranger make an impact on you and vice versa. Call me an emotional fool or whatever, every time I meet him I see my grandfather in him. It’s been two years since I know this ‘Old Uncle’ as I think of him and till date when he sees me, he walks towards me with a stick in his hand, smiles at me, holds my hand and blesses me. The gesture seems so pure, so natural- I have never felt anything but grateful to receive a blessing from this old man.
Okay, so why did I waste 500 words in penning this down and then posting it as a story? It’s simple, in life we met all kinds of people, some good, some bad, some remarkable, some forgettable and some like ‘these people’ who in their own way change your outlook towards life. These strangers, apart from my dear and near ones (of course!) enrich my life.
What do I do? I do what I know best- smile and say Thank you!