The upright man wastes away under the mango tree

Here he sits, wasting away under the mango tree. His once white shirt has a yellow tinge, the outcome of too many washes in the village stream. His body tilts to the left when he walks. During his illustrious university career, this  was known as the ‘academic angle’ (obtained by those who diligently borrowed and lugged heavy loads of books from the library on a regular basis).  He cannot recall the last time he read anything other than the Good Book, and the angle is a result of a life in which everything must be got through hard manual labor.

It was not supposed to end like this, but how else could it have? He graduated with honors and joined the civil service. He did not make any deals under the table; and when everyone took afternoons off to go and run a business, he  pushed files and waited for a promotion (which never came, because it had to be bought). When political alignment was required, he declared himself a servant of the people, neutral and impartial.

Much too late, he discovered that his pension was hardly enough to live on. Had he not built a small house on his father’s land, who knows what would have become of this Outlier, who chose to live an upright life?


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