When I was a child, I didn’t have hair on my head, just some stubs.

I liked to watch my friends play. I would join them now and then, but I preferred watching.

Every day, we would see an old man walking by our playground, carrying an umbrella. He had big ears and a bald head. The moment my friends saw him pass by, they would shout, “Hey, deaf and dumb, what’s the time?” They told me that he could neither hear nor speak.

The Silent Passer-by
The Silent Passer-by [Illustration by Shinod AP]
It was early evening. I was standing at the gate of my house, when I saw the old man coming. I was alone. There were no friends around to shout the usual words of ‘greeting’.

But how could I let this man walk by without saying anything? So for the first time, I asked in a soft voice, “Hey deaf and dumb, what’s the time?”

The old man looked at me. Then he looked at his watch and replied,
“It’s five thirty.”

I ran inside the house and never shouted at the old man after that day.