shashi-kapoor

This one is for Beth and Anu.

The old man sitting under the tree is not young. His dimples have long disappeared under chubby cheeks. His eyes are still soft and brown, but do not sparkle, the eye-lights have not been switched on for him in many years. Those crooked teeth that once lent wickedness to his smile are now firmly locked behind a mouth twisted in pain. And that step, that curious gait, the skip of the legs and the slide of the hips, as if spring itself were springing in into your life, is contained in the immobility of a wheelchair.

There must be a mind yet which brings him to the tree. He sits there. People go to him, sing into his ears, show him their babies, click photographs with him. Other people sit silently, unable to look him in the face, that face which once was, and which is now not. But is.

But there must be a mind yet which brings him to the tree. He sits there. He cannot smile, but he brings together his hands every few minutes, doing a Namaste. The Namaste says thank you, it says hello, it says how are you, it says I am here, it says I am happy to sit here, under this tree, to see all of you, sitting here, around this tree, I am happy still to be alive.

The sparkle is in his hands, and the spring, and the dimples and the smile. He is still wicked, that man, to bring himself to sit under the tree, to tell us, here I am, here you will be, one day, such is life.

The beauty was never in my smile, or my face, or my eyes, or my step.

The beauty is in my smile, my face, my eyes, and my step.

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