When I was young, I crossed my rivers,
sprinting down bridges,
though bridges there were none.
Now, I hesitate on banks of rivers.
They drag me across, saying the rivers are in my mind.
Under my steps there are none.
Years have come and years gone by.
Never cared once, as to whence they came, whence did they fly.
In the evening of my life, I thought it was time to consider.
“Where are my years,” I asked fellow traveller, Time,
“I could account for none.”
He just fixed me with a mirror. “Your silver hair”, he said,
“it takes some doing, it takes all of days and all of nights,
all your yesterdays and all your yesteryears to paint them white,
something that was jet black.
And that frown? No amateur’s act is that.
Pencilling each single line, folding every individual wrinkle,
then laying them in layers, nicely papered,
it is them that account for your days, months and years.
I am a tidy record keeper.
No cuts, no erasures, no crossing out nor clerical errors”,
he said, laying down the mirror.
“The small gifts that I bore you, from year to year,
Though you flung them into the cellar, they add up my friend, they add up to a lot ,
and turn up when you have the time to consider.”
“You stole in on your tiptoe, you sneaked in like a thief.
“I didn’t, weary traveller, you were busy with your affairs,
I walked by your side but you watched your shadow
Shrink or grow in size or just take fright
And collapse at the approach of night.
You were carefree, you were blithely unworried ,
you were not taken for a ride.”
“Now nothing. Now is no time to consider,
Now is no time to defer or to dither.
It is no part of living to go search for lost years.
Live your life as you’ve done all these years.
Just let them glide by.”
India Today magazine once referred to Manoje Nath, a 1973-batch IPS officer, as being fiercely independent, honest, and upright. Besides his numerous official reports on various issues exposing corruption in the bureaucracy in Bihar, Nath is also a writer extraordinaire expressing his thoughts on subjects ranging from science fiction to the effects of globalization. His sense of humor was evident through his extremely popular series named "Gulliver in Pataliputra" and "Modest Proposals" that were published in the local newspapers.