Wandering through the streets of Jew town, brushing past the noisy local tourists, briskly I move towards the tourist boating yard at Mattancherry. Sitting on the dilapidated stone walls along the esplanade, wiping sweat out of my face I glance around. The sight of backwaters was overwhelming. I couldn’t tell where the grey overcast skies ended and the grey waters began. The landscape was every vivid colour, every one of them as fresh as a new painting.
Except for some fruit vendors and a couple of western travelers the place was empty. Most of the vendors were dozing. My eyes fell on an elderly man, seated behind a table of sliced fruit and cucumber. Our eyes met and instantly he smiled.
After exchanging some pleasantries he pulled out a plastic bag from beneath the table and walked towards pigeons already gathered there. He waves his hand and the flock rises up and begins to fly around him. Sitting on the half wall he scatters the grain from the bag around and waves his hand again at the pigeons to come down for the feast of grains.
As he fed the pigeons I keenly observed him. The map of wrinkles on his face told of the hardships he faced in making ends meet. His eye lines told of laughter, of warm smiles and affection. His forehead told of worries past and worries present. His twinkling eyes were framed by thick white eyebrows and on his chin were white whiskers. A white handkerchief wrapped around his head.
Looking at my camera hanging down from the right shoulder, he says with a smile “You can click the pigeons and me too.”
Now the pigeon’s crowd around him, fluttering their wings, hovering above him, each trying to get his fill. Some jump on his hands, some climb up his back as he goes on scattering grain.
A slow flyer sits on his lap and he feeds it from his hand. “This one is injured and he needs to be fed separately,” he says brushing its forehead gently.
He enjoys himself by scattering the grain in patterns and as the pigeons follow the pattern, they form one by themselves. He was in a meditative state. In almost no time the grain is all gobbled up and once the pigeons finish the meal, there is not a single grain left on the ground.
As we started a casual chat and getting to know each other he reveals he has been feeding the pigeon for years and hopes he will be able to continue to do so. Hearing the Azaan call he holds my hand firmly and says “It’s time for prayer. Insha Allah, we will meet again. Next time you come please give me the photos you clicked.” As he walked towards the mosque I slowly move towards the bus heading to mainland Kochin. At the end of the day I realize there is lot of love and compassion in this world and surely it will win.