21 June 2013

Land of Old, Weight of Contentment

اَلسَّلَامُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَا تُهُ

The second:

I like older people. They are like huge recesses of knowledge just waiting to be tapped into. I like how they regard us with not a tint of prejudice, how their smiles reach their eyes, how they can do much with so little at hand.

The land of old people; I've been there a couple of times before but I did not appreciate the crippled wonders that land and its people provided. The third time here (a month ago) was different. Worlds apart sort of different I'd say. Why you asked?

Because I start to see how paper-thin can't even begin to describe their skins. Yet they seem to stretch further than us, further than you and me. For the first time I saw that the old can be tougher than they look. It is true they limp about their daily chores, take years to cross spaces that take us mere minutes. It is true they need more sleep, more rest, take less food and have more time.

But when we - the young and strong and able-bodied - stumble or fall, who comes to our sides the swiftest? Is it not the residents of the land of old? When we fail to make heads or tails of a situation, when we lose our heads, the old take the reins with hands firm and strong. 

When we need company, they provide. I recalled many a times sitting out with them under the porch, with tea in hand for hours. Just sitting. We don't often get to sit purely to sit. Usually, we sit to eat or to rest or to talk. Never to just sit except when we are with the old. They can meet then stay rooted for hours at times. And when the sun starts to set, a smile and a word of thanks was given. It was as if the meeting bred no conversation when in truth a million words has been spoken.

Time mysteriously bends around the old. It passes through them but at a slower pace. Maybe it has something to do with the dense stores of experience they hold, but whatever it is time for them is a long-awaited reunion. They seek it as if seeking a long-lost friend. For that, time embraces them, slows around them in many ways - some sad, others a miracle. We, the young and the reckless and the greedy also seek time but to kill not to cherish, to use not to make use. And for that very reason, time slips out of our hold, always taunting us to run for the finish line as fast as our little feet can go. Until at the very end, when  our feet can run no more and sudden realisation strikes us, when we look into our empty hands - hands with skin stretched paper-thin - that we ask "Where have you gone to oh my friend? Where have you run to oh time?"

At that moment, time will hopefully reach out and grab our hands. In that instance, we the once-strong, once-young, once-greedy will hopefully begin to see the world as it should be; as companions to lead our lives, not tools to further our aimless wandering. When you have reached that point in life, it is time for you to sit with a cup of tea, welcome anyone to your silent party and look at them with kind understanding. Let them think and see you as strong. Let it not be seen that you were just like them. And as they wonder and fiddle with the thought of one day living the quiet life you now live, you watch your frame grow thin and frail, as the scales show ever smaller numbers, as your physical weight falls. And yet show them how to smile with your eyes, and teach them the one important lesson in life: the weight of contentment far outweighs whatever the world can offer you.

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