It was like any other 8 PM in Vizag. After some pointless meandering through the busy evening traffic, I halted my bike for a quick snack at a not-so-famous fast food centre in a busy part of the city.
It was difficult to make up how they were related. May be they were friends or maybe not. There was some peculiarity associated with them. Their dress was rather distinct and was more like look-at-me type. Not those kinds which a normal fifteen year girl would wear. But their attitude and their mannerisms somehow didn’t match their age. Each of them had a mobile and surprisingly all the three of them were busy talking to ‘someone’. They were indifferent to the bustling world
around them and were more confined to their own world. May be it is needless to mention that they weren’t accompanied by any elder. As my noodles haven’t arrived yet and as I somehow interested in them I was trying to watch them. As I said they wouldn’t miss a normal eye, my friend who was sitting beside me, also noticed them. I asked him “What do you think about these girls?”. He used a phrase which cannot be used here. And if I try to decipher what he told I may put it as “some poor souls”! I chuckled at his answer. And somehow they did not fit into what he said because of their age. Some 10 minutes went by and they were still fussy with their phones. By observing the manner in which they were talking over the phone and taking help from my worldly wisdom I somehow extrapolated that they were speaking to the obvious, some boys.
As I arrived to this, ambiguous, but rather obvious conclusion a stream of thoughts and questions cascaded through my mind. Who taught them to dress in such a manner? What is the cause for them to develop such a freelance attitude? Who may be on the other side of the phone? A friend? Lover? Someone important? Why were they still talking over the phone even when they came out together? Was it so important? Then my thoughts drifted to the innocence of their age. They were adolescents and were still blossoming. It is not normal to see three fifteen year olds, wearing some bizarre clothes, talking continuously over a phone at a noodles point, is it? Is it the bursting hormones at that age which are making them go astray? It may be fancy for them to wear some really awkward clothes or have a boyfriend. At that age they may not even know the seriousness of relationships. I came to a conclusion that they were very far from reality. I somehow felt that they were trapped in some false world of illusion. I felt sorry for their condition.
As I was lost in those thoughts I was interrupted by the cook who was shouting that my noodles were complete. I brought my priceless snack and started eating (my friend preferred not to eat! ). I got a bit diverted from those mystery girls, who were still busy with their phones, and was talking about something else with my friend. As I almost completed half my noodles I was again disturbed. I lifted my head and this time it was a relatively old man, may be into his 5th decade. He was wearing a saffron dhoti and a saffron cloth covering his shoulders. He had a rudraksha mala around his neck. He also wore a cloth bag hung over one of his shoulders. He had sandals on his feet and also wore spectacles. So, he was a sage. As it is common in India
for sages to go around begging, it was clear to me that he wanted some money. The thing with me is that I don’t encourage begging. I’m not mean or hard hearted. When a person who is physically fit comes to me for money I don’t usually give money as he is fit and work to earn their money. But I do spare a penny when an elderly or a physically challenged person approaches me. Also by looking at him I couldn’t possibly come to a conclusion whether he was a real sage or a fake one. So I just looked at him.
Then he spoke, “Sir, I have to go to Vizianagaram. But I don’t have money. Can you please help me”. I was awestruck because he spoke this not in Telugu but in flawless, fluent English! I was just transfixed. It is not every day that a beggar confronts you and speaks to you in excellent English. I didn’t know what to think then. But subconsciously I shook my head sideways, meaning no, and he left after a few more seconds. I didn’t know why I’ve done like that. May be I should’ve given him some money. My mind was blank and I found myself staring widely into infinity. But somehow my mind which was preoccupied with the thoughts about the girls (by the way, they were still there) raced furthermore. More questions popped up. Who is this person? Is he real or fake? How does this beggar know English? Even if he knows English what is the point that he wants to make by begging in English? My cerebral cortex tried to answer some questions. He can’t be fake because there is no sense in seeing a fake sage who begs in English. He might be a well educated man who became a sage. Then the next question pops up. Why would an educated man like him ever be a sage? Then the whole scenario became clear to me. May be he became a sage to known what is real; to know the authentic absoluteness of life, to attain nirvana.
May be he was in search for reality.
So at that point, in that particular noodle point, something struck me very hard. The astonishing diverseness of life was before me. In front of me were three girls who lost the sense of reality and were living in their own artificial world of illusion. They were withdrawn from reality and may be were convinced that what they were doing was real, which isn’t. On the contrary there was this sage who lived through his life, God knows how, and now turned out to be a sage. May be he wasn’t satisfied with his life and was now in his ultimate quest for the truth. May be he found out that nothing was true in this world. One was incoherent to the reality and another was in search of reality. I just couldn’t compare these two personalities. The three girls stood up and walked down the road, one of them was still speaking on the phone. The sage was nowhere in sight. I finished my noodles and started my bike with one question lingering on my mind: “What is reality?”