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The Old Lady In Blue Sari

I was walking back home from the bus stand. A long day I must say, plus the honks of traffic and the bustle of the vehicles clearly didn’t make things any better.

On the way, I saw an old lady walking ahead of me. She carried a jute bag full of clothes—it was her ripened age that made her bend over rather than the weight of the bag she carried. A polythene with a few Parle G biscuits hung loosely from her fingers. She wore a blue sari wrapped shabbily around her petite frame. With her ragged white hair spread carelessly on her tiny head and her hunched debilitating body, she walked at a slower pace. I easily overtook her.

Through the corner of my eyes, I saw her turning into a lane—was it my curiosity or my pitying over her state, I slowed down and started following her.

Her steps were little and her walk was slow. I had to stop to keep up with her—I pretended to be on phone, lest she notices me following her. At one point, I saw her talking to herself, gesturing at the big houses that we were passing.

I realized she might have been not been in the best of her mental health, probably, downtrodden by the rugged conditions of her life . Walking parallel to her and keeping up with her pace, I saw her approach a few street dogs. She sat on the road side, called out to them and started breaking and throwing the biscuits  at them. I was so touched by her act—despite being in a deplorable condition, she was feeding street dogs, who happily waged their tails, feeding on the morsels she had to offer.

I couldn’t hold myself—I went near her and knelled down next to her. I started petting the dogs to make it look like I wasn’t following her lest she might become suspicious or uncomfortable. When she saw me, she started talking to me with vigor, but in a language I couldn’t understand. She talked about the dogs ( Naai in Kannada language ) in the beginning. We engaged in a conversation as if we were casual friends and had met after a long time.

A closer luck at her made me feel sad. Her face was a wrinkled with stretches of lines running athwart the face. Her puckered skin had adjusted to her aging body. Her eyes reflected the pain and turmoil a 75-year old could have gone through.

While talking, her tone shifted suddenly. From the bits of Kannada I knew, I could make out she was talking about her house—her voice wavered and streams of tears started pouring down her cheeks.

She continued speaking and what I understood was that somebody (probably, her family) left the house, leaving her alone. She said she didn’t know where they went. Her lips quivered—grief and dismay poured from her eyes. She spoke in low, cracked voice—though I couldn’t make out single word she was saying then, I listened to her.

I brought my hand near her face and, gently, rubbed off the tears from the creases of her skin. I pressed her hand in reassurance—though she might not have understood my tongue, I consoled her and asked her not to cry. The touch of sympathy made her cry even more—I tried holding back my tears as I felt her pain. She pinched her arms, showing the loose skin that hung from her thin limb. I couldn’t say anything to comfort her, but I offered her grapes that I had purchased that evening and the little money that I carried in wallet at that time.

She folded her hands to thank me, but I persuaded her against it. Refusing to accept her gratitude, I tried to deviate her from the topic by asking her about her home, making the shape of house by pressing together my finger tips. She understood and spoke something, out of which all I could get was ‘Kerela’. We continued talking that way deciphering and responding to each other’s words with our expressions and gestures.

People passing by noticed us and gave us quizzical glances. I thought I could ask someone to interpret the old lady’s language for me, but, then, felt against it. I might invite unnecessary comments and the old lady may get uncomfortable—so I stayed put.

We talked like that for good 15 minutes, after which we both instinctively got up to walk again as if we knew the time was up. She called on those dogs and started feeding them. She somehow explained me the way to her home—inge, ange and asked me where I lived. I couldn’t explain much but she seemed convinced and moved on, talking to the dogs and speaking to herself.

I continued walking towards home contented. Strangely, my heart felt lighter after talking to her.

old woman

Image Source: http://www.shutterstock.com

P.S: I didn’t want to take her picture. Taking and posting her photograph felt like a tool to gain attention online and a disrespect towards her.

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Not to be a Lady!

I was often told that I walk with my legs a bit too apart and in opposite directions even while walking normally. Wonder to call it normal, because so many people have pointed this out that at some point of time I did think of myself having some defect or disorder.

You walk as if you are coming to hit someone, they would say.

And the ‘They’ include my friends, my colleagues and even my mother who obviously has to take care of how I look, dress up, talk and walk! Even while I struggled painfully in the only heels I got for my graduation day, she persuaded me to buy more.

The people, who taught me dancing recently, said I had a ‘different’ style of dancing. I took different as bad because I was the one who had to work a lot harder in my group.  Another dance group that I joined went on to say I need to get the feminism in my dance. Though I get to hear a lot from my mom, who wants me to behave like a girl, dress up like one and carry the politeness of a lady, I again felt indifferent to it when I heard that again.

I envied their tucked in stomachs out of the dancing and working out, but not my style. I had my own. Thus a little or no attention was my response to it though I worked hard on my dancing steps, trying to make them perfect. Loose shirts and tops during the practice hours was told to be mandatory, to catch up exact moves of the body and make them perfect. I love superheroes shirts and I still buy them to wear for practice.

A lot of time passed and one fine day my best friend’s roommate pointed it out saying you walk a little weirdly.

Spine straight and chest out, that was how she made me stand. No don’t thrust your chest out, straight spine would do it, she said articulating my posture and making me walk. Feet close to each other and walk straight she said, there! A little change and you look like a lady!

Uff! I am a female; I still think if walking in a way makes my gender get an extra oomph, if yes, do I necessarily need to do that? If yes again, then WHY?

I tried with the practice honestly saying, I would get conscious, thinking what others might be thinking of me, watching me walk like a Yeti towards them. I was a female after all and knowingly or unknowingly we do get jitters if we don’t portray ourselves as good as up to our satisfaction in public.

But these days I just think a little less.

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