This is a story about an old woman who resides next to my house, I don’t know if i am overstating it all of a sudden or just the fact that I felt something, too strong, it left me with wet eyes.
So i want to describe my relationship with her.
Off and on my tuitions in the evening render me free by 6:30 and that’s the time she’s in the verandah, is visible and is trying to let the hustle of the road sink in her, Maybe she’s trying to understand that she’ll never be able to hustle that way, the speed of vehicles excite and sadden her at the same time. But all of this is under a MAYBE, so who knows what she feels?
I try to understand her, but never interrogate because i dont know if my words might hit the wrong strings, i wont intend to hurt an old lady, someone whose nice to me.
So when i get into in my house somewhere around 6:30, hungry, and tired. My body asks for a meal but my eyes are constantly trying to spot her because… Habit? confirmation of her well being? CAN’T ANSWER THAT WITH CERTAINTY.
You know i dont meet her in vain, i see her and she has a rare but lovingly way of meeting me, even when our next meet is lurking few hours away, She holds my hand, and pats my back for a few seconds, and it is only after that i hear her words.
Oh, did i mention she has no kids?
i wonder at times, does she feel lonely? Or has she got into a negotiation with her solitude? i want to ask her if she ever had kids? or they left her? or she has never had any?
I know any person of my age won’t find this entire plot a matter of interest but to me this is my first story, Some feeling that i have only felt while reading other stories or in movies?
I know you might lose interest because who cares if An old woman resides by my house and she watches the traffic and she hugs me when i see her? I hope by the end i can make you understand my need to jot this down.
So, we dont meet for the sake of meeting i have a work, she has assigned. She has a candy bar phone and not daily but twice in a week i have to dial that number because she can’t operate her phone. For the initial weeks i did not dare to question about the person she calls. But my keenness was hitting me hard, it was man she called and i had questions about is he her husband? her son? brother?
But i couldn’t ask!
It was Diwali evening And she came to my shop (which is adjacent to my house) for buying candles and other diwali related things , and i do not know how she managed to come over because she was too tired to travel back.
So she has this bag of candles and other things and a walking stick, a back which has not been straight in awhile and was smiling at me and i havent heard words calmer than hers, “Beta, accompany me till next door.”(this was obviously said in hindi) i dont know what was calm but i was getting to help this woman in a brand new way, i had to walk her home inspite of pushing the buttons on her phone, but something very joyous. Hitting you all with another maybe, Maybe i was happy that despite living alone she chose to decorate her house, buy herself some diwali gift, That was very moving for me as a neighbor and a person who avails phone of friend for her, i still actually do not know her friend whom she makes me call this way. As a maths student i have lived a life of assumption so i have assumed this person to be a friend, probably the only companion in that age. Did i just lose track? Okay, so i am walking her back to home and as her door comes she slightly lifts my hand, the hand with which i held her hand to support her all the way, and she kisses it, Now that kiss was one of its kind, it left me teary eyed, and another list of maybes is on its way
- Maybe that was the first ever type of kiss i had got.
- Maybe i was too happy breaking our stereotypical way of meeting.
- Maybe i was fond of her a little more from that day.
- or maybe i know the transitory nature of help giving because old age is not trust worthy.
I just left her there and failed to mention this to anybody after that. And i chose to carry on, but i sometimes ponder over the fact that i did not know her name, she doesn’t know mine. We’re neighbors and that’s the only way i can describe our equation. But this nameless bond was enough to make me feel her absence in her verandah in the evening. Also, she must be having no idea i wrote this about her.
i had questions in my mind until today i developed courage, parked my scooty outside my house post tuitions and right before calling i asked about this man, and the question was answered, the problem was solved, this man, the man i called twice a week for this woman who was anxiously waiting for me to use her phone only to call him. And the answer was pretty much expected, she told me that it was her son. I had prejudiced it all, between the second and first question i asked from her, those 10 seconds of halt between each question of that questionnaire i had judged this man so much so that i had almost rated him the cruelest son who left his mother at that age. But my second question was about his address, to which i got to know he lived in the next lane, 50 steps away and my judgment skills sharpened, at the age of 17 i had no rights to define this mother-son relationship but i was doing it on a level of mastering it almost. And then i finally enquired about why dont you two live together? Even before expecting the answer i had assumed that he might be having a wife and further assumptions about her that i made are pretty much predictable, to my last question she answered that they did not share blood, he was her sworn her and she called him twice a week because he loved him like his mother but she did not want to overburden him by residing with him so she chose to live separately. And how they shared this bond for more than years then and how much they’ve helped each other survive in a world where they had no families.
I flushed all my assumptions and developed a thick layer of respect for this man who was a means of survival for this woman who was trying to live a life where she magnifies love out of little things. And i as a neighbor now choose to be the same stereotypical helper who is a mediator to this lady, I, for this lady carry hope in fingers because i dial her the way to her survival and I fear being unavailable to her for dialing this number for the rest of our lives.