This article belongs to Sweet Grace column.


What will you do when you have nothing to do for a few hours or when you are bored to death, not knowing how to spend the next couple of hours?  Most of the time, you will get out and go for a walk.  Some times walking can be monotonous, too.  What do you do then?  Many people may return home and switch on the TV to while away those few hours.


But, I stand at the road side and watch the pedestrians. No, I don't count the number of persons using the road.  I study their behavior.  It is most interesting, you know.  Invariably, I come across a few soliloquists.  You don't know what the word means?  They are the people who talk to themselves; all of us would keep thinking of something or the other while on a walk but some people would talk with themselves and quite loudly at that. They are the 'soliloquists'.


I believe in every country you would come across soliloquists if you make it a habit to watch carefully all people who pass by you.  They could also be sighted at the roadside benches sitting all by themselves.


As I stood under a tree, a middle-aged man came into view.  He was reasonably well dressed.  His lips were moving and possibly transmitting some sound waves in the air as well.  I couldn't hear his lines but he was talking all right. His hands would wave suddenly and some times go through a motion of thrashing someone.  I imagined that he was a school teacher who couldn't deal with his students according to his will because of the prohibition of corporal punishment within the school premises.   I wondered who the poor student was and what his crime was!


The next to catch my attention was a teenager dressed in his games kit.  Now and then he would swing his legs like kicking a football, then would stop, raise a hand and yell out; all this unmindful of his surroundings.  He didn't care who was watching him.  He was the only one in the world.  My impression was that he was the captain of his school football team which had lost in the finals.  And this captain was giving vent to his frustration.


Next was a senior teenager who appeared to be a master dancer.  While his fingers clicked rhythmically, his legs did some marvelous steps in tune with his finger beats.  Perhaps he was rehearsing his dance performance due that evening in his college or some public place.


Indian classical singers are a class to watch.  This particular singer's mouth made all sort of shapes and his right hand pointed at the skies at regular intervals.


Then came a platform speaker.  His left hand would hold the microphone-stand firmly and the right hand sometimes made huge circles and sometimes the index finger pointed at something or curled and uncurled.  I supposed that he was either a politician or a political party worker under training for public speaking.


Can you pick out a henpecked husband in a crowd?  I thought I had.  This man surely was one because he punched his victim left right and centre and his mouth rattled out simultaneously all varieties of curses.  His bravado could show only outside his house and a public road is his ideal battleground.


Please don't think that all the above artistes walked past me one after the other like you see in a carnival parade.  They were observed over a period of time and on some particular days at long intervals too during which breaks I drank cups and cups of tea at a roadside eatery. 


And then . . . then  . . . after long gap, came a middle-aged man, who was rather shabby looking.  The entire road was his stage. And he took his position right in front of me.  The way he raised his hand and thumped on an open palm, made me conclude that he was fighting with his boss in the office.  He banged on an imaginary table too to stress his argument.  Just as well his boss was absent on the road. But, though I was physically standing in front of him he didn't see me at all.      The fight over, he turned around and walked away without so much as a 'thank you' for his sole audience!


Next time you stand at the side walk, do observe these soliloquists.  You could spend a couple of hours watching and enjoying their solo acts.  Sometimes you may have to walk alongside them for some distance.  Don't worry; they won't notice you at all.


Isn't this a first-class entertainment free of charge - especially if you felt bored at home?




                                                                  Israel Jayakaran  [Sweetgrace]