"... na kahin chanda, na kahin taare...
jyot ke pyaase mere, nain bechaare...
tarapat, tasasat, umar gawayi...
poocho na kaise maine rain bitayi..."
An old melody. The twilight hour. Strong, bold notes. An older voice.
On his evening walk, he passes the gazebo in the park marked Senior Citizens Area, he cannot help but stop a moment and listen as the elderly man finishes his rendition of the timeless Mohd. Rafi melody. As soon as he is finished, there is a smattering of applause and smiles and nostalgia all around.
He finds a smile spreading across his face automatically. He knows this song. He has heard it on Vividh Bharati several times as a child, when his own father, who now would be close to the singer's age, would put on the radio in the mornings and late in the nights.
The old man doesn't sound like a trained singer, more like an enthusiast; but his wonderfully clear voice rings out in the failing light making the evening mesmerising, magical. As he walks on, he cannot help but think of the sweetness of the appreciation the old man's friends show for his beautiful singing.
He has seen these old people meet regularly in the Senior Citizen Area. Many of them are regulars here. Most days they can be found here in the evenings, sitting companionably on the bench that runs along the inside of the gazebo, reading newspapers, or chitchatting. Some days, they can be seen celebrating something, with bouquets of flowers being handed out or speeches being made. But on most days they can be heard having active and sometimes even heated discussions about politics, sports, the current Government and basically anything that takes their fancy. Sometimes he also sees a similar set of old women occupying the other gazebo on the other side of the park.
Every time he sees them, he cannot help but think of all those other old people who do not join them. The people who would rather complain about their old age, their ailments, their unfulfilled dreams and everything that has gone wrong in their lives. As he carries on with his evening walk, he sighs, if only all the elderly people looked at the positives more than the negatives in life.
Some may say it is easier to be happy when everything's going good with you. But he wants to tell them that that is not so. Not necessary that everyone who was here in the park had everything going for them. Most people here he has seen using canes to lean on when walking. Several talk about their hip surgery or knee replacement or their cataract operations. They exchange information about doctors and hospitals as nonchalantly as they discuss actors and movies and politics and the floods and the War. a lot of them have children staying away in different countries or even different cities. Not everyone is involved in their children’s and grandchildren’s lives on an everyday basis.
So, it’s not that they have the best of circumstances, but just that they choose to concentrate on the positives. At least for a couple of hours a day in the evenings, they choose not to give in, to the negatives.
If everyone decides to choose to be happy, to choose to look at the positives, then there will be more happy old people, or even young. Just more happy people.