Ram Chandra is a shepherd. It's not often we run into shepherds these days, so this feels like an occasion. I've seen him on our streets for years, but it wasn't till recently that I actually stopped to converse with him. I wrote about our first encounter here and when I did, it turned out that eveyone in our neighborhood knew him too.
Though nobody, including me, knew his name.
Now we do. I met one of his relatives a few evenings after writing my post and once he'd determined that I meant no harm (they are accustomed to the ridicule of the streets, the taunts of small children and the accusations of "upstanding citizens"), he told me that Ram Chandra had a speech defect, but that he was a good man and a hard worker.
THAT I knew.
Now I see him everywhere.
He is always with his animals and it seems he is connected with them in ways unfathomable to - well, to non-shepherds. He seems to consult them, to defer to them, to seek their opinions and to give them serious consideration:
They trade stories and share jokes:
And like the Original Good Shepherd, he knows them, and loves them for who they are:
But I was surprised to discover today that that love is returned; that the animals he shepherds so patiently through heat and rain and the dark of night revere and regard him right back and that their connection is deep and wordless and beyond anything like a speech defect or shabby clothes.
Ram Chandra is revered. Maybe not by you or by me, but definitely by this simple beast, this animal who is not fooled by outward appearance but for whom the only truth is what is inside.
I was gone by this time. They didn't know about my zoom lens; they were not posing for the camera. This was love, pure and simple. This was the Good Shepherd, who would lay down his life for his flock.