The old man was waiting in front of the gate as usual. Since the last 5 years, I had seen him standing there … with his figure stooped in an ungodly way, leaning all his weight on his trusty old stick which, like its owner had mostly weathered away over the years. Nobody knew why he stood there and well, nobody really cared. The Gate was of solid iron rusted to almost a dirty crimson over the generations. It’s design… was not very good, to put it lightly. It was as if it lived in a quantum state between classical Georgian and Neo- modern design (how I know these terms is a story for another day), but astonishingly, it felt like a mockery of both styles. Like the old man, the gate had long lost its glory days but one could sometimes see the specks of peeling paint on its corner, which, provided a blurry view of what it once was.
The next day, the old man was there again but something was different. Over the five years, he was religiously present in front of the gate every day, but today, it felt like he had to practically drag his body here. his usual impossible angle of stoop was even steeper and it was as if he was balancing his whole body on his glorified twig of a walking stick. I could almost see his soul splitting from his body bound by just a few strings. He seemed to be in immeasurable amounts of physical pain and for the first time in five years, I felt bad for him. I felt like he was a storyteller who had gathered infinite tales over the years but he had nobody to pass them down to. Finally, after a much inner conflict, I decided to ask him why he waited in front of the gate every day tomorrow.
The old man did not come the next day.
Or the next day
Or the next….
It has been more than 7 weeks since the last time I saw the old man… and with him, disappeared the secret of his pilgrimage. I never got to know why he came to the gate after all. No matter whatever reason I thought of, none satisfied me. I felt bad for everybody around me, they lost something precious and did not even realise it… maybe I even felt envious of their blissful ignorance. For whatever reason, I needed to know and I just realised how he felt… the eternal wait, the unknown conclusion, the insatiable desire to know and even though I did not know him, I mourned for him and maybe, just maybe… I felt like the gate mourned with me.