Every morning as I unlocked the door of my flat I would greet her with a Namaste and she would nod in return with a bonus toothless smile that I adored. She sat there almost every morning devouring the warmth of the winter sun that loves hide and seek. She always had two set of newspapers. The Hindu and the Indian Express. Her balcony clearly visible from my living room window.
A little later I would be in a hurry clearing up the mess that my house looks before the household help arrives. My cold hands and feet keep tingling and feeling sluggish. A sudden unintentional glance through the window would leave me highly inspired. In these chilly winter mornings too she could be seen lining up her wash on the clothesline after her bath.
I knew she was old. The wrinkles on her face and her hands held her experiences, the many struggles she would have undergone, the battles that she would have had to fight, the tears that she would have shed and the happiest memories cherished by her. I didn’t know she was ninety years old.
The husband who had been down with pneumothorax sometime in November still prefers to cozily cuddle on the couch underneath a quilt now and then. I would show him this Iron Lady of mine and make him feel inspired too.
On 22nd December, her daughter who herself is a senior citizen handed over the keys to me for her daughter-in-law as she rushed to the hospital. My Iron Lady breathed her last sometime on the 23rd of December. Nothing has changed. Everything’s the same. Except the empty chair that still sits in that corner of the balcony and that missing toothless smile.
I spoke with her daughter at length yesterday and came to know that she was a doctor herself. A surgeon. Then it struck.
We knew each other for over two years now. But we hardly spoke. She knew Bengali. I knew Hindi, English and Malayalam. The mistake: I thought she only knew Bengali. I have no idea why I thought a lady who read two English dailies would not know English. We could have shared some good conversations.
Without words too there was a strange camaraderie between us. I adore old people. May be that’s why.
The pic below actually resembles her quite a lot. She was just a little over four feet.
Picture Courtesy : MyArtPrints.com
Rest in Peace!