Its been only few days since I moved to the big city yet, I am already take aback by the shear number of people and things that it brings. Being from a small town you would wonder how a small teen such as myself would survive on his own at this place. However, this is something I must do. I am done with the country life and the monotone life it brings. I had to leave all of it and make something of my own. Obviously my parents were against it but, I did not care for their opinion. I was meant to reach excellence someday and for that I must leave things behind that would drag me back. For now, I have small apartment in an alley that could pretty well be good enough for Jack the Ripper to make it his playground. Working part time while I pursued my goal in the acting field makes it quite challenging for me. I would have to travel a lot and luckily I live in the era where we have metro trains to travel long distances and walkmans to keep us company. I always dream of having a luxurious lifestyle with expensive cars and exquisite art work around me to remind myself and others that I am a man of great taste. But this has to wait, till I get my first break.

Everyday I would wake up, get ready and then head to the metro. I had exactly 5 mix tapes to keep me company during my stay here in the city. The metro was around 2km from where I stayed so I would always have a quick breakfast on-route and then, reach the place by 8:45am. My first metro was at 9am so I had few minutes to spare before my rough day started. Today was different though. My walkman had run out of battery half way through and I was introduced to the chaotic voices of the city. As I reached the tunnel to the metro station platform I could hear a faint sound of violin. As I went closer and closer to the platform the sound grew louder and louder. At the platform I finally met the source of the music. An elderly guy may be in his 60s stood next to a wall as he played his violin. The music had it own sense of softness and sadness to it. Some travelers stood and watched while the others just walked by. Few gave money to the old man while few didn’t. His clothes weren’t that shabby to make his poor but why would someone play music at the station during its busy hours, I wondered. My train had arrived and I dropped few pennies and left for work.

Next day I reached the station and found him again but I was a bit late so all I could was run and board my train. I looked at him while the train left the station. I wondered if he did this everyday. I decided to look for him during my return that is if, he were still around. Part-time job and acting classes were never easy yet I do manage what I can. The sun had set and it was my time to head back. I reached the station however, he was no where to be found. “I guess he works only during the day”, I said to myself. I headed home and decided to sleep off the night and await for my busy life the next day had in store. On route to my apartment I had gotten a call on my phone. I flipped open my phone but, I didn’t answer it though. It was my dad. He had a habit of calling me on odd days to check in on me. “He never approved of my wishes so why try and reach me”, I said to myself and closed my phone.

Weekend was nearing by and I usually used to go the near by theater where people auditioned for roles. However, the old man’s behavior intrigued me for some reason. I decided that today I will go and play detective, see what he does and probably follow him around. I headed to the station by 6am. It was a very cold day. If it weren’t for my jacket I would be freezing my bottom off. I reached the station and as suspected he wasn’t there. I waited outside the metro station however, I wondered if he would come today. I decided to light off a cigarette while I waited in this cold weather. It was 7am and the weather was warming up but not enough to walk around without a jacket. I had decided to wait off somewhere else when I spotted someone walking towards the entrance. I moved next to a wall near by and watched while I covered my face with my muffler and my hat. An old man, carrying a case, shivering while walking towards the entrance with his wooden cane. To top it off the jacket he wore was thin. I don’t think that is enough for such weather why would he wear this and head over here in this cold time, I wondered. I could see his old body shook during every single step. I followed him slowly as he walked upfront. He walked up to the wall where he always stood. He kept his case down and slowly opened it up. With his shivering hands he picked up his violin and placed it against his chin. With his hands still shaking he brought the bow up close to the violin and after one strong exhale he started to play. Wait, it was only 7:30am. I had seen play at around 8:30am even at close to 9:00am too. Surely, he was not playing it all this while, I thought to myself. I waited at one of the benches and just listened to his music from the side. He played and played and played. He would occasionally take a break to drink water that was available from the nearby water fountain however, that’s it. He would shiver for most part of his walk and even while placing his violin yet he was in complete control when he played it. People passed by and while few dropped their money some didn’t. This continued till 10am and he finally stopped. The station was filled such wonderful music for so long yet many failed to enjoy it. He loaded the money into his pockets and started to place his violin and bow back into the case. He picke dup his violin and then slowly started to walk out of the station.

I followed him to see what next was in store for such a talented old man. He went to a near by bakery and bought some bread and tea. He had his share on his way to the pond near by that was close to the public park. There he sat at a bench while feeding the ducks, pigeons and even squirrels with the bread that he had bought. It was odd that one would spend all of the money they had earned in one go. He relaxed himself to the sight of the nature around him, the raft of ducks that swam around the pond, the flock of pigeons that flew in and out when someone walked by the place where the bread crumbs were thrown, the scurry of squirrels running around the park and onto the trees. He had a smile on his face while he watched all of these yet all I saw was sadness in his eyes. Once his bag of bread was emptied he crushed the bag and dropped it off at the waste-bin while he walked away. I followed him till he eventually went to an old age home. I had way too many questions for which I had no answers for. I went back to the baker shop to see if I could get some details that would ease my mind. I checked with the baker and I learned that this was his daily trend. It has been few months since this activity had started. The baker did not know much however, he did say that the old gentleman would play his violin every day at the station not for money for something else however, he was not told for why though. I needed answers and hence, I had decided that I would confront him tomorrow if he shows up.

Its a Sunday and here I am waking early again. “I should be in bed”, I told myself. I got ready and headed out for the station. Just like yesterday, he was at the station by 7am and started playing his violin. Being a Sunday the number of people were less however, he still played on till he wrapped it up at 10 o’clock. I could see that the money he got today was fairly little and yet he still went to the bakery and bought bread and tea with all he got. I followed him till the park and then, walked up to him after he had sat at his bench. “Hi, sorry to have followed you but I wanted to talk to you about few things. Benjamin is my name.”, I said. “He was probably confused since I said I followed him but, he greeted me with a smile and made me sit besides him. He also offered a slice of bread even though there wasn’t any to eat it with. I was happy with his offer and took a slice of bread but, I started to feed the animals along with him. “I see you come to the station everyday to play your violin and that too for long hours yet, you use up all the money you earned in feeding the birds and animals. Why? What if you are sick and you cannot come over for a day or two? How would you feed yourself?”, unconsciously all my questions even the more weird ones were spilled out. He started to talk and we conversed for hours. After a while, I walked with him back to the old age home and we talked for a while there too. After few minutes I bid farewell and headed back.

In the night as I lay in my bed I felt a weight on my chest. The old man stories had an impact on me. He was once an aspiring musician from a small town who had moved to the city to become big in life. He met the love his live and had a wonderful baby girl child. However, the problem of all aspiring people struck him as well, which is time. He was unable to devote time to his family and this led down a spiral stairs till it reached the fork on the road. Unfortunately, he wasn’t available when his wife made a decision to leave him and head back to her hometown with their kid. He tried to become big by taking shortcuts however, it was down an alley that lead him to prison for mistakes that he had not done. Being out off prison after 30 years he is now at a stage where both fame and happiness are outside his grasp. He knows where she stays and sent letters across to check on them however, the letters never had any responses. There was few stations that this metro connected which they could board on to reach where he is. He had mentioned in the letter that he would be at one of the station waiting for them and to know it his him he would play his violin. It is odd that things could change from something to nothing and you could do so little to control it. While thinking of all of these, I got a call from my dad yet, my thoughts were so deep that ring-tone fell on my deaf ears. I closed my eyes to head to sleep with my mind set on what to do next.

Good Ending

With a new week at hand I woke up and headed for work. The walkman that kept me company for all these days remained in my pocket. I went by the metro station where the old man played his violin. I waited at the platform for my train while I heard his words play out on musical cords all over the station. My train arrived and I boarded for work without looking back. I started to spend long hours and worked more than I would normally would. I would return back at around 10pm in the night and then, just go straight to bed out of exhaustion. The next day would start and I would go through this cycle again and again. I did this for 2 weeks. I could tell I was moving as fast as I could. I had a purpose which was not for my own for a change and I wanted to see if I could fulfill it.

It was a Sunday and I think I had what I needed. I wore my clothes and headed to the station by 7am. It was still a cold day however, it was warmer than usual. I waited by the station for the old man to come by. He was more or less on the dot and I went straight to him before he took out his violin to do his daily task. “Sir, do you remember me?”, I asked. He nodded his head with a smile. “I have something for you”, I said while I opened his palm and placed two tickets. “I remember you had told me where your wife and daughter might be staying at. Well these are the tickets for your to go and meet them”. You could see a bit of hesitance in his eyes as he looked at the tickets. “I know money was never a problem for your yet you never went to visit them. That is fine. I will be joining you. You don’t have to do this alone if you are worried on how it would turn out to be.” He tried to smile yet one could tell the roller coaster of emotions which was going through him. I grabbed his violin as we both waited for our train to arrive. He remained silent through out our journey. I knew what I did could turn out to be really horrible however, a closure would be a better answer than an indefinite wait. We reached our station and took a cab to reach the house. At last, we are here. The moment of truth. His footsteps were heavier than before as we walked up the porch and up to the front door.

He took a long breathe and then, paused before he could knock at the door. He tried to turn back but I held his arm. Before he could utter a work the front door opened. “How can I help you mister? Are you here to meet mommy?”, said a small girl barely 5 or 6 years old. Neither of us knew who this kid was. We heard footsteps reach the main door. “Samantha, how many times do I tell u….”, a voice flew by as the door opened further. There stood a lady may be in her thirties look at both of us while holding the child by her arms. There was a sudden silence around the place as the lady and the old man looked at each other. “Who is this mommy? Do you known him?”, said the little girl. Tears flew down her eyes as she said, “Yes, this your grandpa sweety. Go say hi to him.” There were tear rolling down all our eyes now. The old man crouched as he hugged the little girl and then, he hugged his daughter. “We didn’t reply to your letter cause we were mad at you. But it doesn’t mean you could never come home”. “I’m so sorry”, he said as he hugged her tight. We entered the house as the door behind us closed. Now I knew that his music would never fall on stranger’s ears rather, only the ones he would want it to.


Bad Ending

With a new week at hand I woke up and headed for work. The walkman that kept me company for all these days remained in my pocket. I went by the metro station where the old man played his violin. However, he was not there today. It was odd of him to not be there but I waited at the station for my train. My train arrived yet he was still not there. It was a very cold day and I had to wear multiple layers to keep me warm. May be he didn’t want to or couldn’t do it in such a bad weather, I told myself. The train left the platform and I was off to work. I did long hours of work and headed for home late at night. I dragged my body till I hit my bed. The exhaustion of working long hours had its toll on me and I fell asleep in the same clothes I wore. I woke up the next and got ready. I went to the station a bit early today and he still wasn’t there. “Two days in a row, something is not right”. I quickly rush towards the old home to see him. I reached there and I found him on his bed. He had slipped and fell yesterday while leaving for the station. To make it worse he fell off the stairs outside the home and hit his head pretty bad. I tried to speak to him but all he did was smile and node his head a little. A doctor did come by yesterday however, he said much could not done. “If he doesn’t get back on his feet in 3 days then, there is not much we can do”, apparently were the words of the doctor when he left yesterday. I sat next to him the entire day to see if he would recover however, he didn’t. Every single breathe of his were heavy and quite painful, painful to watch as well. I left for home in the evening while I worried for him. This ‘concern’ was new to me and I did not know from where this came from.

Next day I went to the station and booked a ticket for myself. I decided to go the address to which the letters were sent to. Upon reaching there I was greeted with only more disappointment. The house was empty and put for sale. I checked with neighbors to see if they had any information however, no one has been there at this house for years apparently nor did they know where they went. I asked a couple of neighbors for any contact address or number however, non had any. I went to a public phone and started flip thought the yellow pages to look for any name that matched the wife’s middle or last name. There was 1 name that kind of matched however, I was not sure. I took out my phone and made a call to it. It rang and rang however, no one picked it up. I told the neighbors about the old man and if anyone did come by to ask them to come to the old home to see him. I had to leave the place as I could do nothing else at this stage.

I skipped work again and went over to the old home to see him. He was definitely not improving. I wanted to take him to the park nearby but he was too weak to move. All I could do is sit next to him and watch him fade away slowly. I flipped open my phone and made calls to the number few times however, it was never picked up. I stepped away from the room so I could vent my frustration out on something. I made one last call and then, went back in. I tried to talk my story with him to give him the very little comfort that I could offer and all he did was smile. I didn’t know if my words did reach him but I hope it did. I continued with my story and I heard fast paced footsteps nearing by. “Dad, are you here?”, a voice was heard from near the door. A women, probably in her mid thirties walked in and sat next to him holding his hand. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.” , she said. The old man had tears rolling by eyes as he looked at the women, “I’m so sorry for the things I put you through” he said with all the energy he had. They sat there in silence for few minutes looking at each other till he slowly he faded away with a smile on his face.

“Benjamin do you think this was right? Tricking him like this?”. “Honestly Lorien, I don’t think being right or wrong matters anymore”. “I don’t know if he could tell if you where his daughter or not. Even if he did, I don’t think there is a point to it.” He has been though a lot and I don’t want it to end it such a way. My conscious is fine with what I did and that is all that I care for. People make mistakes but does it mean it should haunt us for the rest of our life. I heard my phone ring and I flipped it open, it was my Dad calling.