SUNBEAMS AT SUNSET – I

“Er . . . excuse me, I’m looking for Dr Mohan Lal. Is he in?”

The short fair man in a pair of beige shorts and a bright green T-shirt continued to mow the lawn. Without looking at the visitor, he quipped, “Well, Dr Lal should be back from his clinic any time now. You could wait inside or come back after a while.”

“In that case, I would prefer to wait,” said the tall, bespectacled man with a sun-tanned face. He was casually dressed in a pair of loose black track pants and a white t-shirt. It seemed he had just stopped by en route his morning jog, i.e., if it could still be called morning!! The sun had slowly crept up the horizon and was at its brightest best. The clock was nearing eleven.

He walked in the direction signalled by the man mowing the lawn.

The house was spotlessly clean and tastefully furnished. There was an old grandma’s clock ticking away relentlessly – being the only noise in the silence.

It had just been ten minutes of wait that the man mowing the lawn entered the house.

“I’ll be just back”, he said and went in.

He was back within a few minutes, having washed and changed from shorts to a pair of pale blue trousers. He extended his hand towards his visitor with a warm smile lighting up his face, “I’m Dr Mohan Lal. How may I help you?”

“Oh . . . Er. . . I’m so sorry, sir, I didn’t know . . . But. . . clinic . . .”, the man fumbled getting up from the sofa.

“Ha . . . Ha. . . Ha. . . I was indeed in my clinic. The garden you saw me in, is my clinic and I attend to my plants every morning. Not all of them are sick . . . They still need the caress of this old man’s hands, you see. Besides, its a treating dose for me as well. My muscles and joints need this activity; else they would become stiff like my wife’s. And, how I hate to be confined to a room all day long . . . Be dependent on someone for even a change of clothes . . . Or a wash . . . Or a drink of water! Oh! Oh! My apologies . . . I haven’t known you yet. I can go on and on this way. Rarely does anyone stop by an old man’s house. And when someone does, he becomes the easy target for endless stories. So yes, may I know your name?”, said Dr Lal showing interest in the man.

The visitor sported a faint smile and introduced himself, “I’m Raman. I’ve just moved into the neighbourhood. I’m working on a research paper titled – ‘Geriatric lifestyle and care.’ The paper is done and submitted. So, I’m not here to collect samples for my study. My immediate neighbours told me about you on hearing of the title of my research. And, I just thought to stop by on my way back from my morning jog.”

“Ah! I see we have a researcher here. Good . . . Good. . . Would you like to have a cup of tea, my boy?”, said, Dr Mohan Lal.

“Sure, why not . . . is there somebody who would prepare it for you?”, asked Raman.

“Well, the researcher needs to be a bit smart, I guess, after completing the whole research on oldies like me”, said Dr Lal with mischievous laughter ringing loud through the house.

Just then, a bell from inside the house chimed.

“Seems my old lady is awake, now. How about skipping the tea for an early dinner tonight? I cook really well . . . Won’t make you throw up – I promise. It’s just that I need to attend to my wife now”, said Dr Lal clumsily getting up from the sofa.

Sure . . . Sure. . . Please carry on, Sir. It was a pleasure meeting you”, said Raman hurrying towards the door.

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