The pine trees stooped slightly. All bent in the same direction, as if paying obeisance to the mighty mountains. The leaves rustled as the breeze swept through the forest. It was cool, cold even.  There was no sunlight here, though the sun was straight overhead. The ground was well carpeted with the fallen leaves. There was a serenity here that was missing on the road alongside the forest. It was as if this was a whole new world.

The sound of the swishing leaves, the cool breeze, the chirping of an occasional bird, all this beckoned the Old Man to haltingly step inside this nature’s canopy.  His lined face did little to conceal the handsome young man he once was. The 70 odd summers he had spent had chiseled his face to a bronzed perfection. The wrinkled hands shook just a little as he grabbed on to the nearest tree. He looked up at the tree. His tall stature saluted the tallness of the tree.  His gaze drifted to the blue sky peeking from the leaves and his mind wandered.

A familiar sound…a touch…a whiff…a glimpse…

He forced his mind away. He forced the moment of away.

The Old Man wondered why he had stopped here, at this particular place. He had never been here before. And yet there was an almost divine force which had made him stop at this forest juncture. Maybe it was the same power that had made the trees bow down. He wouldn’t question things beyond common comprehension.  He never had. He had just accepted what life had presented to him and had lived that. Underneath his grayed wisdom, he was a dreamer who hadn’t quite made it in the real world. The outer appearance was a carefully cultivated façade that befooled everyone but himself.

His mind drifted again. The same thoughts haunted him. He wanted to move out of the pines, into the coolness of the sun.  He realized it was the oppressiveness inside him that was gnawing at him. The feelings muted and subdued all these years were surfacing here suddenly. It was overwhelming. He held onto the tree for support, a swoon threatening to overtake him.

He was a dreamer. His life had been spent in resolving the dichotomy between world’s reality and the reality that was him. And now with youth out of him, a lifetime behind him, he was failing at this thing he had done so well.

The Old Man cried. He cried for his glories and his failures…he cried like he had never cried before. His tears at last washed away all that was within him.

After an eternity, he slowly made his way out of the forest. The dream died…the dreamer with it.