Friday, April 22, 2011

Briging a smile in the face

From the verandah of my house, I saw the old lady of the adjacent house reclined on an easy chair in the front porch. The sun’s rays were seen falling directly on her face. She covered her eyes with her hand. With the summer having come, it was already hot even at 8am.It looked she needed help to get up and move inside her house. But there seemed none nearby. I was in two minds whether to go personally and help the old woman inside the house. But I was a new comer here and had not met them. I do not know who all lived in that rather big sized house. I was hesitant lest someone charged me with intrusion in their affairs.
It was then my servant maid Sathya entered. She saw me staring at the old woman in the adjacent house.
“Amma, what are you seeing?” she asked
“I am seeing that lady in that chair for nearly 30 minutes with the sun hitting her directly and it is pretty hot. Poor woman, she possibly is unable to get up and go inside. Is there not anyone in the house?” I asked her
“Amma, only the son of the old woman is there. His wife who was very much younger to him was with him only for a year before she left him. People say she eloped with her lover. He has employed a part time cook and a full time maid to take care of his mom. The cook comes around 9am.The maid should be there possibly flirting with the gardener. She is a lazy woman and I think is not taking proper care of the old woman. She is a bully and picks up a fight at the slightest pretext.The old woman cannot get up or walk without her assistance. Her condition is pathetic. The son goes for work early in the morning and comes late in the night leaving his mom under the care of this virago” she said. But Sathya is given to exaggeration and half truths.
That night when I was mentioning this to my husband, he said “you have been working in social organizations earlier visiting old age homes and hospitals. After you have come here you are confined to home .Why don’t you visit her and provide her the comfort that you can give.”
The next day I went around 9am.She was still seated in the easy chair with the sun’s rays falling on her. She was not very old as I suspected but she was badly affected by arthritis. She must have been very beautiful in her younger days but now her eyes looked distant and her speech halted. Frail in her build, she had a smile writ constantly on her face.
I went near her and said “Aunty, I am Veena and live in the adjacent house. I have come recently here. I see you daily here in the mornings .I just wished to introduce myself.”
There was a long silence before she asked “What did you say your name is?”
Surprised at her short memory I repeated my name.
She was quiet for long and then asked “Do you have a daughter? I wish I had one.”
“No, I have no daughter or even a son, Why do you wish you had a daughter? Not many in our parts want girl children” I said
“Foolish people. I have none to care for me. My son is busy with work and has his own problems. I am dependent on others. There is no lack of physical comfort as my son has provided everything. But I feel lonely and long for the love of a daughter. My vision is impaired and I cannot read or watch TV. I have none to talk to. Servants after all work for money and they do not bond even after years of association” she replied
“Can I help you to go inside? It is very warm here” I said
“Will be grateful. I am actually waiting for the maid. But she comes whenever it pleases her. My words have no effect on her” she said
I gently put my arms around her and lifted her. I led her carefully to her bed. As I made her sit on the bed, she hugged me and would not leave me
. “You seem such a kind girl. For a moment I felt I had my dream of a daughter fulfilled” she said
I had never felt her as my mom. But as she hugged me tight unwilling to let me go, my heart was filling with love. “Aunty, please consider me as your daughter. I had a feeling that it was my own mother putting her arm around me. I will come daily and spend time with you.”
Her eyes became moist and as she rubbed her eyes with her sari I knew I can give her what she needed most. A piece of my heart to bring some sunshine in her life, a companionship to hear her bright past, the fears of future and the concerns of the present and above all some loving care. Why should I go to a faraway old age home when I can make my neighbour’s life one of joy and peace?
“Aunty, what do you like to eat most? I can make for you. What music you like to hear? I can sing for you” I said. I could see certain disbelief initially in her eyes but soon they shone brightly. I have now found a reason to be happy and busy.
As I walked back to my house I saw the maid giggling and holding the hands of the gardener at the backyard.


  1. I knew I can give her what she needed most. A piece of my heart to bring some sunshine in her life, a companionship to hear her bright past, the fears of future and the concerns of the present and above all some loving care.

    .....Very touching.... good one. :-)

  2. Pa,i am sure it touches everyone. After reading this , my eyes are moist too

  3. Touching story. I like the concern of the young woman for the old woman.

  4. i guess the story highlights a reality that’s prevalent and rampant in all most all parts of the world…mostly it s the good Samaritans who show up to render helping hands to hapless older folks while their own children and those who suppose to take care of them squander their time and resources…
    good one sir…

  5. This is the reason I wonder why people say 'it is a girl' in a sad voice, when they have a new girl baby at home. The lifestyle of boys are entirely different, but even if the girl is working, she will take time to spend some precious time with her parents.

    Very practical story!

  6. this story is wonderful..something which makes us reflect the way elders are taken care of.

  7. So true, what the old lady said...Money can bring physical comforts..but at such an age, what they require more is Love and affection...and many a times, amidst our busy schedule, we tend to forget that...

    Nice one, Dost!!!