Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Words of Comfort

I think almost everyone in the world who has been watching news and witnessing the tragedy that occured in Mumbai has been left with a sense of shock and disgust at the mindless massacre that has happened. Over the last few days a lot of people have come up to me and expressed their sympathy and it is poignant to see the genuineness of their words.

Last evening I had stopped by at Stop & Shop on the way back from work to pick up a few groceries and some milk. As I was browsing through the aisles an elderly gentleman, shaking because of Parkinson's, put his hand on my shoulder. I thought he was seeking support or maybe he wanted me to move aside.

"I am very sorry about the events that have happened in Mumbai" he said. "These bastard terrorists...they are cowards. I hope your family is safe back home".

I was taken aback by this gentleman's concern. I stuttered "Yes... yes they are".

He looked down. "I am an old man" he continued, "I am 95 years old now and I served in the World War II. I have seen death but never such mindless massacre". I just smiled at him. "I fought the war in North Africa before I went on to Phillipines. I don't know if you would know about our wars... I know India wasn't involved".

"You must have served under Patton", I remarked. His eyes shone and he had a slight smile.

"Yes I served under him, though I never met him. But yes we got their Field Marshal alright (he was referring to Rommel). You Indians are smart fellows. You know history well".

"I would not term it as history yet. I am still talking to a gentleman who has served that war", I said. He just chuckled and held on to my arm as we walked towards the pay counter. We both checked out and walked towards our cars. And when I excused myself he once again offered his sympathies and said "I am an old man and let me tell you... there is justice in this world and you will get it".

It's a shame I didn't learn his name or where he lives. I hope I bump into him again sometime. It's these little experiences I feel that make my life so much richer. While a lot of my colleagues in office have expressed compassionate words - somehow this old mans words seem a little warmer.

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