I scowl at the crabby watchman.I can see him growling at me,like a tiger.A wounded tiger.The hubby complains that the “Crabby Watchman” has an attitude problem.I agree and crib some more.”The crabby watchman” seems ancient.Skin wrinkled,he hobbled around.It seemed like he had contempt for everyone,the whole universe.Never a smile.Never a kind word.
Yet,we notice that he doesn’t speak much.Hubby says he probably doesn’t understand what we say.I let out a bouquet of expletives in honour of “The crabby watchman”.We also notice that he has the most”dead” eyes we have seen on a human being.We call him weird.Weird,for having eyes like a stagnant cesspool.
I ask him for a favour.”The crabby watchman”barks at me and waves concepts of “I am not your servant,empty your own trash” at me.I run to hubby to crib.He agrees, without me telling him that “The crabby watchman is a pain”.I smile,knowing that the hubby empathizes with me.
We sit in the car and wait for the gate to open.”The crabby watchman” doesn’t show any signs of opening the gate.We cuss again.We discuss the duties of a watchman.And,finally open our gate ourselves.
8:30 PM.Our “Crabby Watchman” retires.He has had a long day.Weighed down by physical labour of gates not being opened and trash not being emptied.His “nest” is made up of bales of discarded clothing.We can hear his soft snores when we return at 2:00AM from a movie.He is visibly disturbed at the ruckus we create.He pulls up his bedsheet and snoozes again.We cuss again.
The next morning,”The crabby watchman” wakes me at 6:00 AM to give me the Electricity card.Do i detect a snigger when i fumble with my words?.I cuss and complain.Old men, i say.
Pongal.”The crabby watchman” says to us “Don’t you give any money for pongal ?”.Hubby sighs,cusses and pulls out a 50 rupee note.We don’t like the guy or his audacity.We don’t want to give him any baksish.”the crabby watchman” frowns his thanks.
A day passes.A week passes.A month passes.We barely notice that “The crabby watchman” is no longer “not” opening gates for us.We notice a new watchman.Hubby wants to know where the Old crabby man was.
The watchman tells us -He is gone.Dead.Heart attack.He has been gone for more than a month.
We didn’t know.
Hubby feels bad.I feel bad.We knew he was unhappy.We should have been nice to him.Unexpectedly,i feel a lone tear trickling down my cheek.
We were busy with our lives.Hubby says.
We were indifferent and selfish.I say.
We promise to be nice to each other.To people we love.To people we dont know.To people who are mean to us.They cant help what they are,he says.Life is so weird ,i say.He nods.
“The crabby watchman” has affected us.Visibly.
What can be done now?.Help me pack my bag.The Hubby says.
I move on to help him pack.I have moved on.
70 years of life.
All we give him are a dozen scowls,a bunch of expletives,10 minutes of our mind space and a lone tear.Didn’t he deserve better?.
Doesn’t any human being deserve better ?.Unexpectedly again,while i am typing this,another tear falls on my laptop.
I didn’t do enough.Never again.Never again would a life go unappreciated.I tell myself.
Rest in peace,Dear Crabby Watchman.I realize that i don’t know his name.Even now.We are sorry.And we mean it.I say.
These are the nicest words i have shared with him.ever.
I move on..To my buring upma.