A long time ago, when I visited a hospital as my father’s guardian, I met a 78 years old man.
He seemed quite fit and healthy for that age. The only medical history he stated was right knee replacement a decade ago. He also added the reason to return was to get the other leg fixed.
We met accidentally, as my parent also needs to undergo similar procedures before getting operated on.
“Hi,” he said.
“Hello,” I responded.
“Meeting the same doc?” he questioned.
“Yes, for my father,” I replied pointing towards my dad.
“Knee?” he asked.
“Hip”. I began to reply in single words to minimize the conversation.
Maybe he understood my intention and gave a nod in response.
I had to run between counters to take care of the formalities. Meanwhile, he got little time to exchange pleasantries with my dad.
They became quite chatty by the time I return. I briefed the sequence of tests and pushed my dad’s wheelchair towards the first counter, paying little attention to the old man.
We followed the order as instructed and visited different labs, getting tested, taking breaks in between, having food, asking for routes. Many a time, we crossed paths with the same old man.
At one point, I noticed that he is alone.
This acknowledgment pinched me a little. Since then, I paid more attention to him.
He seemed to have trouble following instructions. “Of course, he’s aged and would need help,” I thought.
But I wondered why was he alone. He checked his phone often, I doubt if it was an action out of boredom or was he really waiting for someone to call?
We seemed to part ways in front of every lab as we got checked first and he got tested next.
We went to have lunch, tired of never-ending tests. But found the old man nowhere nearby, I wondered if he had lunch or not.
Post the procedures, we reunited with the old man and waited for consultation in the same hall. He and my dad got chatty once again. When we managed to get a little alone time, my dad informed me that he did not have food and upon questioning, all he replied was, “I had my breakfast at home”.
It’s already 3 in the afternoon, he had neither received a call nor had food. Many curiosities raised questions about his children and family.
When my dad went to use the restroom, I grabbed his chair and sat on it.
“Are you working somewhere?” he asked, restarting the conversation.
“Yes, I do,” I replied
“Where?” his questions followed one after the other till he pulled all the general job details one could gather from a stranger. He also shared his knowledge and opinion about the industry and its opportunities.
I hold a distaste for people who go beyond the regular stranger talk and began sharing tricks and tips, views, and suggestions, etc.
We kept quiet for a while.
He picked up his phone, called someone dear, and enquired about their timely food intake, etc.
My nosy mind wanted to question him, regarding his family.
But I didn’t, Instead, I kept quiet.
He was old and alone, my questions about the people who were either not with him in this world or chose not to be by his side can only rack the pain. Rather, I could be a good passerby and fulfil my duty of doing absolutely nothing, not even sprinkling salt.
It could all be my conjecture, about him and the hunch that I felt in his tone while he spoke to someone he knew over the phone. Even if there were less possibility of my question resulting in despair. I chose not to do it, anyway.
Just then, when my mind decided on putting my curiosity at bay, he popped up a question.
“Are you married?”
Well, old people will be the same, everywhere.
“No” I replied restraining myself to one syllable, speculating where would the conversation head.
With this story, all I want to say is, few times, holding back our curiosity is good. Though it couldn’t reduce other’s pain, at least we don’t remind them of their despair.
Of course, our questions, don’t have to result negatively every time. Just go with your hunch.
Hope you liked this little story.
Do let me know your opinion on it.
See you next time.