Walking towards my office everyday I saw this lady by the road side. She would never ask for much but just showed her hand when we would pass by. She was too old to be employed and too fragile to be begging in the road side. I always wondered what would be the story behind her misery. Why was she here every day that early in the morning and stayed there till late evening? The keeda of curiosity kept me on anxiety level everyday I passed by. But again I wasn't very confident to ask her. I was scared what If she says it's none of my business and what if people stare at me like I am some lunatic. At the max I would give her a rupee or 2, may be sometimes a 10 rupees note. In return she would give me startled smile and get back to her normal expression as I passed by.
One day I decided I have to kill this keeda of curiosity and ask her to tell me her story. So that day I left for office a little early so that I could manage time without being late to work. As usual she was right there looking at everyone longingly. I bent down to make a conversation with her. This time I had a 50 rupees note in my hand. She seemed a little surprised and took it with a very overwhelming smile. I asked her what language she speaks and she replied saying Kannada. Next I spoke with a very unsure tone;
"How old are you and why are you here everyday all alone?"
"I have nowhere else to go, I have been coming here since 2 years since my husband got paralyzed. We live near the Kundalahalli area in a small tent house. So everyday I come here so that I can feed my husband with atleast one meal a day."
When I heard her complete story my emotions couldn't find any room in my eyes to stay back within and it started flowing like it would never stop. Everyday we waste so much of food and money on unnecessary things and don't even feel a hinge of regret or guilt. That day I gave her 100 rupees note instead and bought her that day's meal. And asked her to leave for the day. She refused to take so much help but I couldn't do anything more than this hence insisted her. Before she could leave I asked her if she has any children. Then she told about her only son who left them a year back to live a life of his own. They know nothing about him now and have almost forgiven him. Hence I enquired her address and name and promised her that I will try my best to get them some kind of help from the government.
As I got back home that day I called up my politician uncle who gave me all the details with respect to BPL card and the list of hospitals. I had arranged all the possible information and was determined to enquire about their son the next time I meet them. I hadn't seen that lady for a while now as I was on vacation. I had a day more and then I would be back to my routine. That night I couldn't sleep. I was happy and content that I had put some effort to gift someone a small share of happiness. But I wasn't sure about the fear that boiled inside me.
Next day I walked via same route and was about to reach the spot where that lady usually sat. But to my surprise she wasn't there. I looked around and even waited for a while. I was a little worried but then I thought maybe she slept late and would come here in a while. I didn't know what to do and I started walking towards my office. As I reached my desk I began with my routine but something kept me a little lost. Suddenly my colleague asked what was wrong with me as I was pouring water over my rice instead of sambar. That's when I realized I had to leave else I would regret it later. I booked a cab and went straight away. As I passed by the lane where she sits usually I couldn't see her there. I checked the address she had shared with me.
The place was quite shady and smelled awful. The driver asked me if I was sure this is the location. I paid him and got down from the taxi. There were many huts around and I wasn't sure which was hers. I saw a kid and asked him if he knows an old lady wearing specs who lives with her paralysed husband. He showed me a house at the edge. I walked slowly towards the tent as the way was messed with yesterday's rain.
"Amma are u there?"
I saw a fragile figure coming out of the house. It was her and she appear weaker than usual. At first she didn't recognize me but the moment she realized she was shocked.
"What are you doing here?"
"I didn't see you there so I was worried. Is everything okay?"
"Yea, everything is over now. Just waiting for my last day."
"My husband is no more. He passed away 3 days back."
I didn't know how to react to this and stood there silently.
"He was the only reason for me to live now I am just waiting for my last breath. Anymore you won't see me begging there as I need no money to feed anyone. I have no desire to live. My son anyway left me years back, I have no reason for my existence."
"No amma don't say that. God has given us life to cherish and we have to return to him one day anyway hence it's our responsibility to take care of ourselves."
After having a word with her and giving her some money even after her repetitive refusal I left her place. I went home straightaway and I was completely sceptic about what to do about this whole situation. She was too old to work and sending her back to begging didn't seem like a good idea anyway.
"Hello is it Holy cross old age home?"
"Yes. How may I help you?"
"There's a lady who's old and alone, could you give her shelter."
"We will be more than happy to take her in. Bring her tomorrow evening as our NGO head will also be present here. "
The next day I left early from work and went to her tent directly. She was sleeping in the corner. I called her and she came to me with a smile.
"Get ready. We are leaving now. Pack all you need from this place. Cab is waiting outside."
"What where are we going?"
"To start your new journey. Life doesn't end here amma there's lot more you can do."
The environment of old age home was quite pleasant and the people were treated well. I had already done my part of research as my company usually visits this place. There may come a day where there could be shortage for food but she won't be alone. This was definitely a home. A home full of warm people. A place where I started visiting regularly since then. I hope nobody reaches a situation where they have to live on their own with no desire to live any further because life is something very precious. No matter what age you are if the almighty has given you the opportunity to live it's our responsibility to live to our fullest. The sad part is even after having a son she was left out like a destitute. I hope her son realizes this someday and comes back to her and takes her home.
After a month I was all set to visit her. Since the project scenes had kept me busy I couldn't visit her frequently but made sure to call her once in every week. She seemed happy and in a much better condition than she had been before. I felt contented and a mark of satisfaction was imprinted inside me. The satisfaction of giving is one of the best emotions and today I realized its importance today.
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