The Old Man

I haven’t posted anything on this blog for quite a while now. The simple reason was that my life started to catch up with me and I wasn’t in my most creative time. In other news, I’m attending camp nanowrimo in April and I hope to do a lot of work on my novel then.
I have a little short story for you now titled “The Old Man” — I hope you like it, it has been a unique experience to write.

The old man told me that even though I am a big man I ought to take little steps.
When I first saw the man I thought nothing of him. He sat on a bench in a small park, watching people pass by.
On my fifth visit to this park I decided to sit beside this old man. He said nothing and I left after an hour, saying nothing. I returned the next day and sat beside him once more. I asked him why he sat here. He said he observed the passing of time. I asked him why he did that when he could observe the passing of people in this busy place. He said that he traveled the world in his younger years and that he needn’t worry about such things. I asked what job he had, that he could travel the world like that. He said he was a teacher, or a preacher, I couldn’t tell and when I asked him, he laughed heartily with the kind of laugh that only old people can laugh.
He said he taught children with the word of the Dow (which I later learnt was written ‘Tao’) and of course, some practical studies as well. I asked what he taught them that he got so much money for it. He stared at his feet for a while, trying to condense his thoughts into an idea.
“I teach them,” he spoke with a distinct sagacity in his voice, a breath of age, if you will. “I teach them that if they fill their bowl to the brim, it will spill. I teach them that if they keep sharpening their knife, it will blunt. And most of all I teach them to do their work, then strip back.” I asked why he taught them to step back from their work, reject the pride of accomplishment, as I put it. He replied that it’s the only path to serenity. Midnight was approaching and I asked the man if he shouldn’t go home. He said that I better go, or I might catch a cold and that I needn’t worry about him.
And so I left.
I had a busy week that following week, so I couldn’t visit the old man. After eight days I decided to go and visit the old man again. He wasn’t sitting on his bench today. His place was taken by a young lady. I sat beside her and asked her about the old man, if she knew him or where he was. She said she knew him and that he left about 3 days ago. She told me he wanted to see me, that be wanted to give me, she fidgeted with her bag and pulled out, this plain gray metal box.
I took the box and thanked her. The box, upon closer inspection, wasn’t plain at all. Ornaments of exotic plants and fruits adorned the cover, but they were so faded that most of the cover was adorned by your imagination. I thanked her once again and left.

“I brought you water, old man,” I said. “I hope you didn’t mind my absence too much, old man,” I said, putting water to the fake roses. I stood and observed what has now become the old man’s residence. Marble, fake flowers, no candles… I opened the box. The box was filled to the brim with sweets and chocolates from many different countries, a folded paper note on top of the box. I unfolded it and read what the old man wrote.
“Young man,
Today I saw it.
A small boy visited me in the park. He sat beside me and asked me what I was doing. I told him I was embracing the Tao(this was the first time I saw the word Dow written) and naturally he asked how I did that, that I was just sitting there, how could I accomplish anything? I told him about the master and how she acted by not doing and taught by not saying and the boy understood. He said the Tao was one with me as well.
I caught hold of the boy’s hand, I knew him, everyone knows him.
Nobody likes the boy though, they resent him with a burning passion. It is up to the elderly to play with him, for they understand him. When he comes to them they are welcoming, as if he were their own child.
I told him I knew him. He smiled and said he was glad. It was getting cold and dark so the boy took my hand in his and said It’s time to go home.
The boy you see, was death. ”
Rain started to fall and the drops soaked through the paper.
“I’ll miss you, Dad.” I said, clutched the metal box and ran.

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3 thoughts on “The Old Man

  1. I love this story it really touched my heart in the soft spot I haven’t really read any other of your stories and blogs and poems but from this one story I’m sure your a fantastic writer and i admire you as i love writing myself and aren’t very good:) btw could you pls give me advice on my page: mistycatt.wordpress.com thnx 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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