Monday, 18 May 2015

The Conversation

As i waited for the long line of peak office time cars, bikes, rickshaws, chartered buses to recede so that i could cross the road to the shopping complex on the other side, i noticed her.
A frail old woman trying to cross the road, then hobbling back as a biker almost drove over her. Instinctively and inconspicously, i moved to her side to protect her from the surging traffic and help her cross over. She noticed me by her side and asked if i was also going to the market and if i could help her cross. As the traffic slackened a couple of minutes later, i held her by the shoulders and indicated to the car drivers on both sides to slow down. On the other side of the road as i gave her my hand to get on the footpath, she thanked me gratefully. I asked her if she wanted to buy some milk from the Mother Dairy and offered to buy it for her. Panting due to the effort of walking, she told me that she had to get milk as well as vegetables. As we crossed another road, i held her steady on the potholed road and gestured to the car drivers to wait a few seconds.
Very politely, i queried why she didn't get grocery, milk and veggies etc delivered from the store inside the society itself, she said that she didn't have any phone. I don't know what came over the lady suddenly, she started confiding in me how her son and daughter-in-law were troubling her. In a feeble voice, she spoke about her illnesses, her childhood, her parents and her happy and comfortable life with her husband of 48 years. She told me how loving and caring her son was in his childhood and what hopes they had from him. But after his marriage, circumstances changed.....he started pestering the mother for disposing off their properties and giving him the money. Her thoughts were all muddled up.....but she spoke quite coherently.
I was a bit embarrassed to hear all this, a stranger as i was for the lady although we happen to reside in the same society. With vehicles screeching and honking all around, i couldn't hear all that she kept on babbling but her tearfilled eyes conveyed her inner turmoil and predicament. I wished to move away, having reached her till the Mother Dairy booth, but the despondence in her eyes held me back. I stayed with her a few more minutes till she fell silent, except for the heavy breathing. Gently, i asked her if she wanted me to wait for her, but she politely declined my offer. 'It is my destiny, i have to bear it.' I told her to take a rickshaw home and moved towards the market in a pensive mood.
Generation gap, communication gap, lack of mutual understanding and tolerance, too many expectations from children, different aspirations and lifestyle, acceptance of disagreements as part of life.......that brief conversation with the gloomy lady-or rather her monologue left me wondering........what is it that makes parents and children drift so far apart that life becomes hell.....perhaps for both!

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