It’s a love-at-first-sight of sorts,
When old eyes see a new sheet of paper
(Or maybe half-new, or always-there-and-never-knew),
Lying carelessly on a pile of books at the corner of the wall,
Clearly for disposal.
It’s quite pretty:
(Blue, but not exactly blue – maybe a mix of blue and white –there is a name, but it is long lost in recesses of his mind – a perfect square (16×16 sq. cm) – tougher than normal paper, but it’s good because folds hold and it would be quite suitable – )
What was that?
Maybe he missed it, maybe it’s not for him –
unkel, woud you lai…..maybee….
UNCLE TEA! WOULD YOU LIKE TEA?
Oh, there it is, no, no thank you
He already had coffee – too sweet coffee to make up for the too bitter decoction,
But who got coffee right nowadays anyway?
What was there to complain – it was just a drink and the poor shopkeeper had to earn his livelihood – he understood the importance of money –
Oh no, no thank you.
A few tittering laughs, a sheepish grin.
Why would anyone dispose such a sheet?
Maybe it was used as a half-finished shopping list,
Or the second draft of a card that was never given,
Or used for doodles made while talking on the phone-
Ballpoint flowers whose roots extend for three-fourths of the page,
A network of black lines-
What a waste.
Ah yes, what had the world come to?
Such a beautiful country, now so much wasted potential,
Who in their right minds would vote for such a man?
(A familiar feminine voice says ‘Blue collared uneducated workers.”)
Naturally, education was important indeed –
What did he do nowadays?
Same old thing, whatever this old spirit can do
Don’t say that Uncle, don’t…
A light breeze touches his wrinkled skin.
The blue sheet of paper flutters to the ground like the butterfly it could be –
Soon to be chappal-stamped with kitchen dirt in the patterns that Bata promises gives better grip or tucked carelessly under the leaking water bottle on the table forcing the fibres to absorb a single drop of water that spreads like ink ruining the soft texture with its dampness –
Hand wraps around a walking stick,
Hobble. Hobble. Hobble.
Ignore waist pain.
It’s a love story of sorts,
When old hands meet a new sheet of paper,
And settle back down in their seat,
Ignoring all questioning eyes.
Conversation returns to the living room,
The fingers thumb the clean crisp sheet unconsciously,
As the mind races ahead to see all its
And settles on one,
Perfect for this size and colour and quite easy to make.
The folds appear, crease after crease,
Only outdone by the creases on that hands that make them.
Hands that have wrapped around the shoulders of siblings,
And around the hands of the little ones,
Around the handle of a walking stick.
Hands that have underlined the favourite passages of poetry
That have cooked along with his wife,
Have propped up the clothes on the line with the help of a wooden stick,
That have prayed and offered,
And folded before God,
Hands that fold now, a sheet of paper.
Old creates new.
It’s a happy ending of sorts,
When the old couple leaves.
The wife smiles and hugs the hostess,
The husband is ready with his bag and chappals and walking stick,
They wave good bye twice.
And the host,
wondering about the slightly-lost, quite-deaf, very-interesting Uncle,
Sees a little blue flower
With long and short alternating petals,
Made of – and it seemed impossible, but was true
One sheet of paper
Lying on the cushion of the seat.