She seemed a relic of ancient-era. Her wrinkled skin bore the traces of insipid life. When traffic clogged streets, her eyes so often enquired moving regular shadows. As if staring with blank expression was her only elixir of life. She had a decent life once but drug’s addiction snatched her only son, almighty bestowed upon her. “How much longer she supposed to suffer.” asked benefactor and she heard clinks of few coins into her earthen tumbler. She fondly raised her frail hand and meticulously mumbled into some device “Hello NCB, Saaar! It’s Cocaine, three Men and the location is…”
25th April 2015 11:56 AM, Mainabati Devi was sitting outside her home in Besisahar, Lamjung District, Nepal. The lady was thinking about her son working in Bhaktpur as Tourist Guide. That thought made her feel proud for sometime. Suddenly, she saw her entire neighbourhood running towards the street. She couldn't understand what is happening, she heard her neighbour shouting, "Run, the house is going to fall." Still clueless she kept looking at everyone with bewildered eyes. Then again what is Earthquake to a person with Parkinson's
Mind: Oh... Such poor, helpless lady! Heart: So tranquil, thoughtful... Just like our grandma. Mind: Sshhh… No sentiments please. Heart: It’s my job. Mind: God! Think about the story. Heart: I miss grandma now. Don’t you? Mind: Slightly. Whatever! Focus on story. Heart: Let’s go and see her. Mind: Stupid, she’s far away. Heart: We’re far away from her. She’s still there. Mind: Argggghhh... You’re one manipulative bastard! Heart: Haha! Pack up. Mind: But story? Heart: We’ll anyway write another awful one. How about going back to the master herself for tips? She never disappoints, you know? Mind: Affirmative!
'Here ma'am. I hope this helps you.' Little Saurabh said while giving the hundred rupee note to the old lady. Shanta looked at money and accepted it with a smile. 'God bless you, my kid. Saurabh left, eager to tell his mother about his good deed. Shanta lit a cigarette as a man stepped out from the shadows. 'Did you find him?' 'Yes Amma.' 'Does he have the money?' 'No Amma.' 'Kill him.' 'Yes Amma.' Satisfied, Shanta stubbed her cigarette, wiped her hands on her petticoat and went inside, the hundred rupee note lying forgotten on the ground.
People called her Good Mama. She had sold flowers her entire life in that modest corner of the market. She smiled whenever a person passed by her. Sometimes, when her sorrows and troubles reached unbearable peaks, she gave away her flowers as gifts. Feeling her infinite generosity, the mighty Gods granted her a second chance: to go back in time and meet herself as a young child and change her sad destiny. Today was the day: she saw her little self playing happily. She got closer and whispered in her ears: “Remember! Smiles and flowers. This is the secret!”
“I don’t know. Nobody knows”. She said to herself after she looked around, thought if this place would ever be the same again. Not that she had a big house, but she liked what she used to see. The wrinkles on her palms saw a lot of life pass by. This was different. “I deserved better ruins”. She mumbled. She sat still. It was a battle of screams. She was winning them with silence, not sure for how long. “Take your food”, said the man “I am not hungry”, she replied “For how long” “I don’t know. Nobody knows”
She was bored. So bored. Her great intellect, seemingly inexhaustible, was hungry for new challenges, but she was the last of the great innovators. The masterpiece was yet to be made. She must create a world so complicated and with so many interrelated complex relationships that only she could untangle them and calculate the ultimate outcome. There would be injustice, but she can take it, because she can. It will not be perfect, but she would balance it. She took a deep breath and then she opened her eyes in the dark and said, "Let there be light."
It was just another day. But the air was rife with a bond brewing between me and him. He was much older to me but I was smitten. Our professions involved coming together in intimate ways. But there was a big gap amidst that intimacy. He was rich and a Brahmin. I was poor and new in the trade. Lost in his serious gaze i mumbled my lines. 'Cut it'. The scene ended. The rolls were canned. The movie flopped. He moved on. I was lost. I still am.
She looked at the green playground full of kids. It was a dense forest earlier. She remembered the times, she had passed through this forest carrying vegetables on her head, on her way to the market with Rekha and Paro. She loved the return trips with the lightened load. But there was also the paan-chewing Hemant waiting in the forest. He would tease us and ask for unspeakable favours. Paro and I had stabbed him with our vegetable cutting knives when he grabbed Rekha and wouldn’t let her go. He had died horribly. His soul followed us since then.
Hiru Ranabhatt was lost in deep thought, when she heard a bystander exclaim, "Kathmandu has been reduced to shambles." The old lady sighed, "I also witnessed the great earthquake in 1934. I am 91 years old. I have lost my family twice." "That is terrible." "The truth is that we all share a common fate in death. Tell me, how terrible that can be?" "But, everyone deserves to die with dignity." "We have no say in the matter. We can, however, strive to choose a life of dignity.", Hiru mused, as she got up to resume her work
Bandmen practised their beats. Children merrily played with flowers and tinkers. Food and wine intoxicated the air. Only a woman on steps looked sombre. On enquiring, passerby said ‘All this are for Dada. 90 glorious years.’ ‘And she?’ ‘Well she ought to be sad. She is his wife. Rather ‘was’ Stunned, he uttered ‘Was!!’ Then why these celebrations’ ‘In our tribe, we coronate death. Rather, we call it celebration of life. He lived a life, he left a tale, for us to narrate and all to celebrate. So why be sad. It’s a happy moment’ He just smiled in amazement
Her grandson was picked up by the police before dawn in connection with the recent bombings by Naxalites in the area. Her tired eyes belied her hopes of his return. Sitting in front of her hut, she recollected the same manner in which her husband was picked up by the British forces just two years after her marriage. He never returned. Then her son was picked up by the armed Naxalites in nineties and his bullet ridden body was found in the jungle. She murmured 'Nothing has changed except for the colour of the skin of rulers'.
She was a picture of poise among the commotion. Looking at everything that passed by her, she sat there as a dispassionate spectator. Though the calamity had been a frantic phenomenon, life was moving at a very slow pace in front of her eyes. She sat there waiting for the path to clear so she could start and rebuild what was shattered. There were shards of broken dreams strewn across the land. But, dreams never developed cracks. So, she waited to sleep again that night. On a bed of grass, her eyes to the stars, she waited to dream.
Niranjan fixed his hair and picked up the bouquet. Important date, eh?’, his roommate teased ‘Sort of’, Niranjan smiled. ‘Wow, who is the lucky lady?’ ‘Come along, you should meet her.’ They took an auto through rickety lanes to a small slum. ‘There she is’, Niranjan pointed. ‘She was a nanny at the orphanage I was brought up in. Always said I’d make it big. I promised to treat her at a fancy place when I did.’ The old woman had been waiting. She looked up and grinned as Niranjan gave her the flowers.
It has been 53 years since he left saying he will come back with laurels or never return. She would have not waited for she was battle hardened herself. But then came in the news the Chinese have taken him POW. That’s when the long battle of waiting began for this lone warrior .The war is over but a battle still rages inside her. She waits with wrinkled arms to hug him long or to wave a goodbye that was never said.
It finds me through broken doors and shattered windows. On chirpy mornings and big fat wedding nights. Through chaos and silence it reaches me, whispers its stories in my ear. I hear what it has to say and sometimes nod to its beat, Sometimes it holds my hands and draws me out, I part my hands and I bring them back, WIth every clap I add to its beat, Matching the rhythm of the sound with the music within.
"Mua, please don't go to doctor for eye checkup all alone,I'll take you once I'm back from school " said Nawaraj 8yr old grandson of Shizan,a 75year old lady living in suburbs of Kathmandu. "Ok, I'll wait in the park outside" He smiled and waved a Goodbye. Never she would have imagined of collapsed school building that killed her only family by deadly tremors of earthquake. Ignoring what all was saying, she sat there in park waiting for her grandson to return. A Never ending wait of those Senile tired eyes!!! Sigh!
April 16,1979 A dark room, a woman screaming for hours on end. The screaming stops. A beautiful baby is born. Mother holds the newborn and sheds a tear. Her husband comes home drunk that night . On knowing its a girl, he gives a choice. Baby or him. He leaves without a word. She decides to provide her daughter with everything no matter how hard she's to work. Present.. Old , worn out she sits in front of her house glad how things had turned out. She smiles seeing her graduate daughter in the distance. She couldn't be prouder.
What keeps her going? After these years of pain Bestowed on her Why does the sadness in those wrinkles Now does not matter? What keeps her going? After all of them Had her disowned Sent her to away To a ‘better’ place they said To make it on her own What keeps her going? When all she needed Was family But here Only strangers she can see What keeps her going? After they wronged her When all she did was Be their mother What keeps her going? When all hopes die Even if death summons None will cry
She's old, wrinkled and bent, not so much with age as by the burden of life. But she's not despairing . The bleary eyes give away nothing.... nor do her lips. They complain of neither the unkindness nor the inconsistencies of time. Her relationship with life is that of indifference. But that doesn't make her plead for death. All, her blank stare searches for is God. But He's not around, lest He be scorched by the accusations in her eyes! All her life she'd pinned her hopes on Him and every time He'd failed her. How could He face her?
"What are those medications, you people seem to take every single day of your life?", probed Mausi. "Oh, those are the hypertension ones";replied Avinash sounding glum. Pulling over a sorry face, Mausi couldn't make out, as to what was wrong with this generation. She was over 80 and had no known aliments ever; thanks to an organic diet. Her gaunt look was all due to old age setting in. She bragged endlessly about, not having any white hair. She loved the fact that, she had seen it all and it wasn't going to come back.
When I lived, I wanted answers, I concentrated on ways to prosper. Now, I sit here with all answers in my head. They said heaven would greet me after I am dead. But there’s no heaven, hell or a different world, I now realize. Why did we fight then, all through life for property, religion and prize? Now, I am still here around you, my people. I am devoid of feelings – anxiety, fear or anger. I want you to know, there’s nothing after death, but just another life. Of reflection, calm and peace. Yes, the soul survives!
I stood there listening to her. The scary reality behind her journey of ending up all by herself at the Home had consumed me in no time. I felt like water in a glass that is too full and unsteady. Sensing my unrest, with a soothing smile and an assuring tone, she tried to calm me. "Beta, over time we learn to outgrow the irrational fear of change and accept it as part of our life. Understand that this is the only moment we have for sure. Embrace it. Live it."
She looks beautiful even through the aged face. The wrinkles make her perfect. Her thoughts are keeping her occupied. I don’t need to instruct her to sit straight. She seems nostalgia stricken. I am doing what an artist does. Reading emotions and reproducing them onto the canvas. The eyes are the trickiest part. They reflect most of the emotions. Maybe she misses someone. Her eyes tell she is lingering. Maybe she wanted to grow old with him. But all she is doing is, growing old with his memories. I hope I am able to depict that.
“Will you still love me when I look all old and wrinkled like that?” Abhay looked out the car window in the direction his girlfriend, Tushita, was pointing. His eyes met those of the ragged old lady sat alone on the steps of the old age home. He turned away and looked at Tushita, taking her hand in his, “Of course I will. Always.” The old lady turned away in disgust. Even with her failing vision, she had seen that her only grandson’s eyes were still free from shame or remorse at having abandoned her there.
It was a good place to sit....such songs and dance had called her home...You rarely remembered the Other Side...Deep in Bardo Illusions....then born with a Clear Delusion...Maybe it was Fate... This time she would choose a Female to be a Magician...though it was tempting to seek a youthful Male Mind to Mold ....Mothering Delight.. -"You will make an Output Helmet to boost the brain Carrier Signal...and your Participation Partner will wear an Input Helmet....One Inductive the other Receptive...like husband and wife...get married....found a new Industry...i just place the seeds "..
The lines across her face bore a testament to what she'd been through. The hurricane took away her home and with it her only son too. Although she had lost everything, a smile she still wore. Never to dwell on charity she firmly swore. Even though hard labour has now roughened her wrinkly hands Earning her own living at 80, her courage unshaken, here she still stands...
" Nana, i don't think dad'll come" "Why do u feel so?" "because, we have been waiting for years and look at you! What you have done to your health awaiting his return!" "hmm, I know you feel i'm wasting my time waiting for someone who might never show up! But trust me when i say,not everything in life is mapped up,sometimes follow your heart,my heart after all the things my son has done says that one day he will come for sure,to rest my soul in peace and that day might be today."
At that very same spot she waited; right where he left her. That same cheerful little boy, who would once refuse to let her out of his sight. That same boy she so lovingly carried around in her arms had now decided that she was too big a burden for him... Yet, still she waited; right where he left her. Just in case... Should her little boy ever fall and need his amma to pick him up again...
"....and what benefits do you get now that you have retired?" asked the surveyor. "Retirement what's that? Only benefits I get is that now I have to lift 30kgs instead of 15 and my wages have been reduced by 50% as well! Anyways time to report for work!" said the old lady timidly or maybe tiredly.
Wear a smile, remember no sympathy. I heard all their experiences with pauses. They needed it just like I did, to process. I looked around. People taking selfies, some crying for sympathy while others did giving, some in their heart. Betrayal everywhere. Memories created and retained, to be happy. My grand parents left, before I grew up. Now I had these things to keep me blessed. Karma, empty noisy vessels in a no horn area. Back in my hostel the other wing is an old age home. Care to visit? No trespassing. At this age am deaf, treachery.
As I sit here every day by myself, with an anticipation to see my son come home. I see so many faces, different expressions, plenty problems. But the pain might be similar? We want to live until we see what we foresee, at least close.
"I've been waiting since an hour! Why did you ask me to see you here? You know I don't like this place." "I'm sorry honey, traffic! Oh look, that old lady is here yet again. I sometimes wonder why is she always here, staring at the road blankly." "Don't you know? She lost her youngest son right here 20 years back. Waiting for him here is like her daily routine. Things hope does to you." "I called you here to show you the place my parents found me abandoned, 20 years back." And a new flower of faith bloomed..
Sona a 12 year old girl, was staring at an old woman, that woman was sitting near a temple. She was looking very poor, sad and depressed. Sona had tears in her eyes on seeing her condition. His father came to her and asked why she is crying? She hugged her dad, and said Dad look at her (pointing her finger towards that woman and asked) Dad how could you do this ? you gave so much pain to your own mom, how can you make me happy and wipe my tears. Her dad was shell shocked !!
Me: Dad look! She is sitting there again like last time we saw. Dad: yes dear she is. Me: dad, doesn’t she has any place to live? Dad: no dear, it’s nothing like that. Me: then? Dad: she actually waits for her son. Who was angry with her, so he left his house. And now she spends most of the time in station, as if her son would come back Me: so sad. Dad: yes son. And from that day, I promised to my own that I will never think to do that same thing with my family
I have lost two in. in height; my tangled hair has turned grey, the uncountable wrinkles on my face: sound the death knell. Sons & daughters have abandoned me. I watched John depart from me. I live incognito; exiled from the world of ecstasy. The palace we lived in sank into mud. With every sunrise, I breathe the hope, with every sunset, the dark clouds float over my head. The flowers that bloomed in the quadrangle were reflecting my past & the parched ones mirrored my crumpled life!
Her prying eyes first confronted me during one of my tea breaks. There was something about her gaze that catapulted me. She rarely spoke to anyone. For almost a year now, I see her peacefully sitting there, watching the passing vehicles and faces around. "Hello amma ji, may I sit here?" She glanced at me, and then back at the roadside. "What are you searching for amma? Can I help?" She sighed...The wrinkles of her face, momentarily displaced by a beatific smile. "My Rahul baba is about to return with medicines. He must be on his way..."