Every once in a while we come across middle-aged folk who seem grumpy and crooked (and who soon become grumpy and crooked old-aged folk). They used to irritate me, and I would wonder why they couldn’t be a little more civil, a little more cordial. Why couldn’t they squeeze out a smile? Was that too much to ask?

I would have thought that they were like that their whole life – grumpy and crooked and unpleasant and cheerless, and totally irritating.
No, scratch that.
I don’t think I had ever bothered to think of them at all, once the irritation was past. I would not have considered it worth my time.
But if I had, I would probably have decided that in their childhood they did not play and laugh and howl and scream like the rest of us, they did not love or dream like the rest of us, they did not say idiotic nonsense to make others laugh, like the rest of us. I would have thought that they were always grumpy and unpleasant.

The truth is that, as I see now, they must have been pleasant and kind too, once, in their youth. They must have greeted their acquaintances gaily every morning and enquired after everyone’s health. They must have cracked jokes and laughed at themselves. They must have been confident and successful in a lot of things they did. They must have motivated and inspired others with their positive approach towards Life. They must have cracked the skies with their boundless energy and optimism.

But Life, on the other hand, had other plans for them. I sometimes think Life is a mischievous kid, about five or six years old. It loves to push us into a puddle and laugh when we are soaked in mud.

Or perhaps, Life is an adult with its dark and evil humour, very like a human. On the spur of the moment, it must have shoved them into water and left them to drown, until their optimism and attitude were drained out. Until they became a mere shell of their former existence, no longer cheerful, positive or optimistic. Until they were grumpy and crooked and unpleasant. Then Life, for some inexplicable reason, must have pulled them out from the water and left them to live.

Funny how Life teaches us things. Funny how Life changes people.