Sometimes he shaves; sometimes his silver stubble grows a bit too long. Sometimes he sings; sometimes he converses with no one in particular.
Tonight I asked Raja for the Old Man's story.
"You know," Raja began, "he talks to himself sometimes. At first it scared me, so I asked him why..."
'The asuras,' the Old Man responded. 'They walk this land constantly, and if you cross their paths, they'll take your mind.' The devils will steal your sanity. 'I talk to nature, to the gods, to them. I sing about my life and release my sorrows; I do it to keep them away.'And that, I found, was sound advice.
Raja was intrigued and asked a great guru if there was any truth to the Old Man's tale.
'Yes,' the guru answered. 'There are no asuras in that land; what he's afraid of is no longer possible. However, the asuras--and any bad spirits--will only bother those who are afraid, who think negative thoughts. If you are strong, if you are a friend to all the energies, to all the souls lingering in the air, you will be safe no matter what.'
"But what's his story?" I pressed.
He came from a town whose name means 'Two Dams.' "So," Raja said, "he grew up by the river." But, despite being a good person and a hard worker, the Old Man had no job. "So he came to the land with the first family that owned it. He came to make little works, to do the gardening, to tend the land." Years later, he still does... with great pride.
"He's also a bit of a translator, a communicator with the gods," Raja explained. Sometimes people will take him to the temple where he will begin to work as if intercepting instructions from the Divine. He'll do his piece and advise the locals on what they must do differently, and of what they're doing right.
I smiled. "So the man who protects Lumière speaks to the gods, to the spirits, and to nature. He sings his soul out to ensure he's strong enough to fight asuras. And he's so tremendously grateful and entrenched in this land that he's a part of it and it's a part of him. Right?"
Raja considered the question for a moment. "Right."
What better watchman could you ask for?