Wednesday, 11 May 2016

"An encounter with an Old Lady"

Today I visited a park near my building …
I sat on a wooden bench,
That did slightly wrench.
Surrounded by Green grass all around,
No one else to make a sound.
One tree waved in slight breeze
Patches of flowers with some hovering bees
There’s red, there’s yellow
There’s blue and pink
But what my heart thinks?
Is that there’s no white.
How beautiful the same flowers would be?
If they were white
But why did I come here?
I never did before all my life
I needed some peace
To make my heart at ease
So I think to myself
Am getting what I want?
No I am not.
My mind’s still disturbed
May be I just can’t.
I was so lost in my maze
That I never noticed
The women beside me and her gaze
Wondering when she came?
I looked at her shaggy skin
I thought, “Oh! She’s old”
She doesn’t fit in the frame.

And the encounter began when the silence broke…

She asked, “What brings you here?”
It seemed like a verbal poke. I told her, “I came to see the park”
She smiled and said, “No you didn’t, your mind is so crowded. I could feel the tension. I see you look well off. Tell me. May be this oldie could tell you something you didn’t know”. And then there was a scoff.
I said to myself, “What this lady could tell me that I didn’t already know?”
I said, “Nothing’s like that”. I thought that was a fine blow. But to be polite, I further asked, “Where do you live?”
She spoke as she pointed, “In that Grey building”. And I noticed her eyes go bright. That is the one I also stay in. So I thought maybe she is not dangerous and I did have a little grin. I asked her about her flat and her family. Knowing this much, I felt she didn’t mean any harm.

But then she asked again the reason to my tension. So I told her that it’s general stuff, issues in the place I am staying in, office, with family and a lot more. I then knew she’s not gona leave it to that. But she didn’t ask me any further and there was silence. I thought maybe she is not interested or she got the idea that I didn’t want to tell her.
For five minutes it all went quiet. I was about to get up and go, when she asked, “Why are you leaving?”
I should have known whatever I say she is not gonna buy it. I said, “it’s getting late I have some work?”
And to my surprise she said, “No you don’t have any work. So tell me the truth. Is it because I entered in your not so peace cloud and now it’s too awkward?”
I couldn’t answer her. I had no words.
She continued, “I understand you have many problems. Small, big ones and very big ones.  It’s a chaotic sheet with multiple columns. Some can be solved but it’s difficult and some cannot be solved. For you nothing is typical. Point is you don’t like it. It’s all so messy and you are tensed. So tell me now what do you want? What should be done to make it fit? If given 3 wishes which problems would you get resolved?”
I smiled and said in an instant, “Why would I waste 3 wishes on these when I can get anything else?
Who would care then if they aren’t solved?”
And so she replied back in an instant too, “When you know what makes you happy and what you want, then why don’t you get that, instead of wasting your time in thinking about these useless problems that makes you unhappy?”
For a moment I didn’t have any answer. But then as any other reluctant human to understand the real fact, I thought for a minute and said, “These problems are affecting my everyday life and I can’t neglect them”.
With a nice smile and stare she said, “When you would go after what you want, keeping aside all the troubles, everything else would be suppressed. Life would be a gem and when you continue to do what makes you happy you wouldn’t even know what other problems are because they wouldn’t mean anything to you then. “
I knew she was right but to deflect I asked her, “Where are your children?”
She said, “They are in another city”. To continue the subject I added, “Why don’t you stay with them?”
To what she replied “I did go once. Stayed there for a while and realized that there were many problems. There were issues in staying, with family and others. But I never cried. I wanted to be happy and I knew I’ll be in my home, my locality and with my people around. So one day I packed and came back.” I wondered just like that? She left all her family and came back just because she wanted that?
I asked her, “Who all are her people here?”
She said, “Everyone in my building. From watchman to guard, to my neighbors and to everyone on each floor.”
Her words were making me think more. I got up and said, “I’ll leave now”
She said, “I will come too”.
When we entered the building, each and every person greeted her with a little bow and talked to her for a minute.  I was surprised. Some young ones even touched her feet.
So many people bowing here to her. They aren’t even her family. I have never seen anything like it.
When my floor came I said good bye to her. She stepped on the lift door to hold it. At that time no one else in the lift even made a sound. She said, words that I would like to quote in the same language,
“Apni khushi dhundo. Roz ki chizon ko jahan hai rehne do. Jinse fark nhi padta unpe kyu dimaag khapana . Zindagi ek hi hai. Ji lo” (Find your own happiness. Leave everyday’s problems to where they are. Why to worry about the things that don’t matter. There’s just one life. Live.)
And it would never go out of my mind.

Simple words. Strong meaning.

This article was first published on SMART INDIAN WOMEN on 14th April '16.
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