It was still dark as I dropped my son at the bus stop. With the customary “bye” without looking back, he straddled across to the stop. My eyes caught an old lady dressed in sari worn in the traditional ‘Gounder’ way, with two bags by her side, talking to a person. She was showing her mobile and the action happening across the street suggested that she wanted help. The man was in no mood to offer any help and just waved her away. She then moved near to my son and did the same thing, whispering something to him. My son leaned over and took the handset in his hands and I saw him scrolling and toggling the keys. Within moments, route #6oo F drove in and he was off in a jiffy thrusting the cell into the woman’s hands.
I lingered in the car for a couple of seconds more to see what the wrinkled lady would do next, she mumbled something to herself and the sparse morning commuters had all disappeared, she was frantically pressing different sets of keys but in vain to get connected. I was perplexed and in two minds, not known for chivalrous acts and the multitude cases of cheating, duping, conning all crossed by my cluttered brain but something urged me to get out of my car and act!
I was out in a flash, ambled across the road and spoke in Tamil “enga ponnam amma?” She seemed to be more than relieved to see me and hear somebody talk in a language not alien! She told me that she had been waiting in the bus stop for the last one hour hoping her kith would pick her up. Despite her advancing age, she was sharp, physically and mentally agile and somewhat familiar with the topography. The mobile’s battery was draining fast and almost dying. I quickly dialled a random number from the contact list as did not want to waste further time exploring the list feed entered in Tamil, due to my scanty knowledge of the script, which I unabashedly admit and also owing to the moments of life left in the Nokia! Searching for the name she had mentioned, “Raja” would only add more agonizing moments for the two of us.
A woman’s voice sleepily answered the call and I asked her without any introduction as to where the owner of the number from which I was dialling, was staying. In a bewildered tone she answered that I had got the wrong number. Not making any headway and unsure and contemplating of my next move, I fumbled with the phone when I received a call back from the number I had just dialled. To a brief introduction of the situation I was in, smart that she was, absorbing and assimilating like all Indians, told me the old lady was visiting her relative in G R s apartment on MCC street. Thanking her, and thanking my stars as the phone went dead just at that divine moment, I said I would take her to the apartment myself. She was more than happy to be helped and just as I bend down to pick up the luggage, she cautioned me that it would be heavy. Shrugging her off, I picked it up casually only to feel the weight weighing down on my arms as if I was lugging timber! I somehow managed to put it in the boot carefully avoiding her “I told you so “looks!
As I drove in the dawn with the beautiful sun breaking the darkness of the night, I struck up a conversation with her. She had travelled from Coimbatore, a city in Tamil Nadu to Bengaluru to visit her granddaughter who was expecting her first child. It seems she had informed them of her coming but was surprised that they had not turned up to pick her up. As I was nearing the gates of the apartment, she realized that this was her destination and had recognized it. She got out of the car even before I could do that myself and open the door for her; as I opened the trunk, the bag that was so heavy for me was pulled out by her strong hands with the greatest of ease, and I owed her strength to the years of drawing water from wells!
At the gate, I saw a young chap, in shorts and T-shirt and in absolutely no hurry, approaching us, the gait suggesting his lack of interest! With great reluctance, he took the bag from her and went in without even a simple word of gratitude for a stranger who had dropped his grandmother in law! But the sweet woman was holding my hands and in her moist eyes, I saw benediction and mercy…profusely thanking and blessing me for the small act of kindness.
A sense of triumphant consummation of a deed well done cut across my mind on my way back but at the same time, the thought of two contrasting behaviours troubled me – one of a youngster who hardly acknowledged or recognized anybody and the other of the old lady who was a symbol of grace and retribution! And I knew what was in her heavy bag- sweets and savouries lovingly made by her for her granddaughter!
Picture courtesy – http://previews.123rf.com/images/AlexBannykh/AlexBannykh0802/AlexBannykh080200195/2603057-Grandmother-and-grand-daughter-Stock-Photo-cartoon-grandmother.jpg