An Encounter

One day during the last days of my stay in Thimphu, I was walking through the market in a light drizzle after meeting with a poet, philosopher, meditator friend of mine (need I say, a lot of people you meet in Bhutan are unique?!). Suddenly, someone called to me “Sir, where are you going?” Anywhere else I might have walked on but I turned and saw a kindly older Indian gentleman standing under the cover of a shop front avoiding the rain and smiling at me. “Just walking!”, my standard response which is true most of the time, including this time: I am walking through life! “Where are you from?” and our conversation continued.

For all the random times I have met people on the street, this time I was blessed with having a conversation with a sensitive, caring, kind man, who shared some stories of his life: how his wife had passed away, how his children are grown up and married in India, how he has decided to devote the rest of his life to children and how the cold weather of Thimphu is a menace for him who has grown up in the warm climate of Kerala! I enjoyed listening to him but even more I enjoyed looking at his kind moist eyes and the sincere quivering in his voice when he talked about an orphanage he visits sometimes and how he loves the children there for whom he sometimes cooks and tells stories.

He said he loved the children in Thimphu where he is a primary school teacher, although the workload is heavy and the pay is not very good. He still enjoyed his time there and smiled and looked in the distance whenever he talked about his students, I believe imagining their inquisitive faces and open mouths as they listen to him tell them stories like this: “Once Socrates was walking down the street in broad day light with a lighted lamp. Someone asked him what are you doing? He said, ‘I am searching for real human beings!'”

He told me he wants to write a book about his life. That would be great but would it capture his kind gentle energy? Would words express his sincerity? Would literary metaphors and images be enough to convey the tenderness in his heart? Perhaps, but it would be a difficult task!

After a short time, we shook hands and moved on. No phone numbers exchanged, no Facebook adds. This was a different kind of encounter: a moment complete in itself, a coming together of souls appreciating the pain and love and beauty that is life!

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