Counting his money again and again perhaps calculating how much will be left after paying the dues. The bundle of those 10-rupee notes between which there was a small photo of a goddess on an old and withered paper back, torn from the edges, crumbled due to folds, lying tucked in between the notes. The old man paused for a moment, then took out the photo and touched it to his forehead in a slow pace of old age with trembling hands in utter reverential bow and again started counting the remaining notes.
He was wearing white shirt and trousers, laden with the layer of brown dust depicting it hasn’t been washed since long time, perhaps the only pair of clothes he must be having. In place of foot wares, his feet were covered with layers of polythene to keep them clean and dry. 2-3 polythene layers wrapped carefully around his feet, enclosed with the rubber band at the ankle ensuring they will stick to the feet.
Amidst the chaos of morning office hours, this man was sitting in his wheelchair at Bhandup station, Mumbai. Hundreds of people passing by at the fanatic pace, double number of feet treading by, some climbing over others, bodies clashing, sweat dripping. In short Bhandup station is a mess and amidst that mess this man was sitting counting his money. I was waiting for the train to Thane and meanwhile couldn’t help but observed him. I was scared, secretly hoping him to keep his money inside his pocket after all phone and jewelry snatching, pick pocketing, any type of stealing is ‘usual’ in Mumbai’s busy local stations and getting anything stolen from this man was the last thing I wanted to see. I was lost in his act, his faith in the God printed on that paper, his trembling hands, the calculations going in his mind and then he happened to lift his gaze and something hit me hard when I looked in his eyes. Wrinkled and wore out but deep. They had seen the world, they were telling the tails of experiences he had. They were shouting out loud that he is the man of utter dignity. He had his world stored in those eyes, must be a caring husband responsible father, a mature son, an accountable sibling, a genuine human being and it is possible that all these speculations might be wrong. But his gaze surely sent chill down my bones, like you are answerable to your father when your eyes meet with his and you see the what you feel about him in his eyes. The dignity he had earned, the lessons which he taught and himself lived by, the path of righteousness, all that you consider him he is.
Those eyes had a deep layer of dignity in them, they were telling tales of hard earned yet respectful living, that explained the polythene tied to his feet, the man of honor and self-dignity. That explained his reverential bow to the image of God, the man committed to his beliefs and duty, his imperishable faith in one power to he thinks he owe it all. That explained his multiple times counting, putting your family first, out of love and your duty that you believe it to be.