Day after day the old man sat and listened. That’s all he did. He heard birds sing, the tinkling of water and wind-chimes, the crying of babies and mothers lulling them towards sleep. He noticed people working – sawing wood, drawing water from the well with a sploosh, leading animals towards pasture with the clonk clonk of bells around the necks of goats.
The closer he listened, the clearer sounds became and the more they enveloped him. He drifted into them, eyes closed, and began to dissolve from sight until he faded away entirely, though so slowly that no one even noticed he was gone.
I asked about him, but no one in the village could recall the old man, or remember his name, and some weren’t even sure that he was ever there.
Perhaps he’s sitting still, in the shade of the big tree, on hot summer afternoons, listening, only listening.