Unsure of everything happening around, he stood there quietly, his eyes darting in every direction and his mind seemingly filled with a hundred questions. Am standing near the right gate? Am I late? Do I stand here or go to the main door? He didn’t say anything aloud, but from experience I could read his mind clearly. He seemed to be a new addition to the many of his kith I saw everyday.
A Jr’s school has three different gates and they are divided section-wise for us to collect our children from after school. The idea helps keep errant, restless and impatient parents (there are plenty!) in check, but for someone new the whole ‘find the right gate’ exercise can be slightly overwhelming. Even more so when you have the kid’s anxious parents waiting at home to interrogate you even after a lapse of five extra minutes.
The Uncle I mentioned in the first paragraph was one such overwhelmed soul that day. I observed him in passing, shifting his weight from one leg to another nervously. Every time the teacher called out a child’s name, he would be on his toes trying to tower over the people standing in front of him. For a moment I felt like talking to him, but didn’t.
Soon, I mingled with a group of my friends standing at some distance from him. It always amuses me as to why parents give their kids a hero’s welcome once they are out of school and that day was no exception. These blinded-by-parental-love people didn’t stop to apologise even if they knocked someone else’s child down. Strange and ironic!
Anyway, since our kids are in separate sections now, after a quick chat and a hearty laugh, all of us dispersed. I stood there, since I was the only one at the right gate. I held on to Angel’s hand tightly and was trying to shield her from any untargeted school bag, badminton racket or cricket bat, along with its current handler, coming her way. I, however, didn’t see what was happening behind us.
After spotting his grandson at the gate, I assume this Uncle boisterously raised his hand up in the air to get the kid’s attention and even excitedly started jumping in his place. That’s when he lost control, slipped and fell straight over Angel. While the poor girl recovered from the shock of what just happened and I stared in disbelief, this Uncle got up and without as much as an apology straightaway went to fetch his grandson.
I’m not sure how I felt at that moment, honestly. He was my Dad’s age and a part of me understood his confused feelings, but his brazen attitude towards Angel was unpardonable to say the least. I was all prepared to confront him and give him an earful, but was focussed on my girl. She was rattled, but thankfully not hurt. In some time, A Jr was out and his mere sight was enough to bring a big smile on Angel’s face.
I looked around for him later but he was gone. Once my anger subsided, I tried to reflect on who exactly was at fault here. Sure, he was wrong, but so was the person who sent him for a job that he clearly wasn’t meant to do. Had he come there voluntarily though? Was he just a cranky old man after all? I tried not to think what would have happened if Angel had gotten hurt in any way and thanked all my Gods silently.
Some might be doing it happily, some hoping to make themselves useful, some might be forced into it or it might be a respite away from home for some. Whatever the case, I see many senior citizens battle the traffic and heat, holding on to the tiny hands of their grandchildren or even carrying them on their shoulders along with their quintessential school bags and water-bottles everyday.
Is this right or wrong, or just subjective?