Encounter with the Grey Haired Lady
It was the same busy street on which I used to walk daily. The same trees, same shops, same bus stops, same towers. People and vehicles on the street were different, but behaved quite similar. A crowded place but everyone is alone. After all, this is Mumbai, where all are stuck in their own problems. To match up with the pace, they hardly have the time to halt and look at the surroundings. But now it has become the trend and smiling or greeting unknown people make others suspicious about the person's intentions. As I was standing at the traffic signal waiting for pedestrians signal to go green, I wondered what if I ask a vehicle owner or person sitting in an auto rickshaw for a lift till my workplace which is hardly 2 km away from the signal. Alright 1 out of 10 men might still give lift to a girl, but with a clear motive. But what if its a guy? The statistics will jump to 1 out of 100. The suspicious mind will instruct you to deny or ignore right away, although your heart is still willing to help. But we often fail to listen to our heart considering the practical situation and experience.
When the signal turned green, I shook those thoughts out of my mind and crossed the street. While I marched all the way to reach the side platform, I saw an old lady on the other side of the signal. She was sitting in a corner of the platform, legs folded with knees near her chest and arms wrapping her legs. Her damaged grey hair, yellow and blue coloured saree which looked dull and faded, torn chappals, broken nails and wrinkled skin implied that she was abandoned by someone. I halted for few seconds when my heart advised me to go to her and ask if she needs any help. But my suspicious mind as always didn't allow me. I continued walking as my brain echoed the lines I had read somewhere "Keep calm, and Keep kaam se kaam".
The next morning again as I decided to take a walk towards my workplace which is just 4 kms away from my home, random thoughts came along. When I reached the same signal, same place, I found the same woman in same attire, position and expression. This time my suspicious brain couldn't control my curious mind and pitiful heart. I took few steps towards the lady but backed off after a second thought. The thought that entered in my mind was how would I help her even if she needs any. I don't believe in giving money as it might be misused. Offering her food will hardly help her for few hours or last up to a day. If she wanted to reach some destination I could help her, but if she really wanted that she wouldn't be sitting here. I turned away before she could notice me and continued my journey. In the evening, on my way back, I took the same path to see if she was still there. Yes she was, sleeping in the same clothes, bare land. I walked to the small shop beside her and enquired about her. When the shopkeeper told about her, I was taken aback. He said "She was from a village named Dhanora in Latur. His son sold their home in Dhanora and brought her to Mumbai so that she can stay with him. But after few days he left her on this street and drove away. Since then she has been here and he has never returned."
I asked if she wishes to go back to her village. He said that even he had asked her the same question. But she denied saying she has no home there and even if she returns she will not be able to face the people she has known for years. Instead she wishes to stay here and work. I thanked the shopkeeper for taking his time to tell me about her and walked towards my home.
As I walked, I wondered how cruel can life get sometimes. My heart nearly wept for her and I decided that I will help her. As I got home, I discussed this with my husband and suggested that we should help her. He agreed and asked me if I want someone to help with household work I can call her. After few days, if everything goes well, we can help her with accommodation too. That gave me the courage to go ahead.
Next day which was a weekend, I walked to her and casually talked for few minutes. I took out an apple from my handbag and gave it to her. She grinned and accepted the fruit. While she ate happily, I told her that I am in need of someone who can help me with my household work. And gave her the proposal to work for her living. She agreed immediately and I bought her home. I believed that she would put the money to good use as she had earned it.
In a crowd, identifying the right person who needs your help is not difficult for your heart. Just that small effort, can change someone's life. So listen to your heart and go on with the good deeds. You never when you'll need help and those deeds will return.