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The Old lady down the lane!

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by Megalife, Nov 12, 2011.

  1. Megalife

    Megalife Platinum IL'ite

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    My parents were still working in MUmbai when I got married. So after 40 yrs of service when they decided to settle down in their native place, they chose a quiet yet affluent area. They had to pay through their nose to get the 10 cents land on which they built a moderately comfortable bungalow! It was my first trip to this new house (which was purchased 3 yrs ago) during the summer time. Not being able to visit your parents often was something I was reconciling with since attaining the NRI status since marriage.
    It was a partly cloudy evening, I decided to explore the area and surroundings a bit and possible make some new friends. Also there was a selfish motive, my parents lived on their own and it would be helpful in case of an emergency to keep the contact numbers of some good neighbours . I passed by a few houses and exchanged a few pleasantries over the gate with a few ladies. I was about to end my exploration, when I spotted a big mansion at the end of the lane "huge, isolated, partly run down to its west side". For some weird reason the novel "Wuthering Heights" came to my mind, I had read it several times as a child. My curiosity got the better of me and my steps hastened towards this structure. In my muse I failed to notice the enormouse dark clouds which had started gathering in the evening sky heralding a heavy rain. I could spot a speck of light at the east wing of the house, also some smoke curled up the old chimmney"who in this age would cook on fire in this affluent part", I spoke my thoughts aloud.
    I had this creepy feeling and at once turned back ; Lo and behold by now it has started pouring cats and dogs, ruining my brand new, gorgeous "Nine West Sandles''. No way I could walk back in this downpour and also it was approaching nightfall. I rang the bell of the cracked teak wood door of the once upon a time a luxurious mansion.The ground was covered with dry leaves and a few dried up rose bushes. No answer, I repeated my action. Again no response, I used the solid cast iron door knocker this time. I guess it was real loud this time. I heard feeble footsteps and after a minute of struggle with the latch, the door was opened by a old man who must have been in his late seventies. He seemed reluctant to let me in, I told him that we were new in the neighbourhood. By now another frail figure appeared, she must have been 10 years or so older than the man. After much thought and eye signals between them I was invited in. I told them I would leave after the rain subsided to which she looked disapprovingly through her thick glasses. She offered me an ancient phone (a real beautiful antique piece) to make a call home so that somebody could come and fetch me. We started chatting, nice hot balck tea was poured into dirty faded cups, tea-stained from inside . She offered me some buscuits which smelled of mould, "we bought them some time back, I dont know if it still tastes good". No way I would eat them-hospitalization was sure!!!:drowning

    Over the cup of tea she told me that her husband used to be a doctor in the Army, he had passed away 40 yrs ago. She had 4 children, 2 boys and 2 girls. All well-read professionals, married and well settled in Europe/US who visit her occasionally. Initially it was once in 2 yrs and gradually as their responsibilities increased the visits became less frequent. All the children were educated in the best universities world wide. Now she lived with the old man who used to be their driver in good times. She never had any visitors, except the local priest and the local doctor who always called before stopping by. That was the reason of her reluctance in opening the door as she never expected anyone today.The old man ran her errands like shopping, paying bills etc. Cleaning was done once a week by a boy who was also the church Sacristan. Her only connection with her family were through the phone which rang occasionally and the portraits/pictures which hung on the long ago whitewashed walls with plasters coming off in bits and pieces. By now my father had sent the car to pick me up, I thanked them for their courtesy and promised to come back again to visit them. I returned twice the following week with some home cooked delicacies! We had a good time. I told them I would leave to visit my husbands folks for a few weeks and will drop by when I come back. For some reason I felt her eyes moist as we said good bye.

    I had a good time at my in laws. As I returned to my parents home we approached the nearby junction, there was a traffic jam with all expensive cars jam packing the narrow roads. Strange, I thought, traffice jam at noon in this part wasn't expected. On inquiries we found that the "old women down the lane had passes away" peacefully in her sleep 5 days ago. Today was the funeral with most of her children flying in from different parts of the world. It was a befitting elaborate funeral with all the VIPs in the locality present and an elaborate band playing. I had a glimse of the funeral procession; everyone at their best prim and proper, lots of flowers and many priests. A few tears rolled down here and there. I alighted the car and joined the procession. Somehow, somewhere there was a feeling of emptiness, grief within me. Was it grief for the departed soul, was it for the few hours I spent in her company or was it my own feeling of guilt??????
     
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  2. mimur9

    mimur9 IL Hall of Fame

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    very nice and touching post, megalife. Yes, parents are left to pitiable condition when their children settle abroad & hardly pay any visit. It is the oldage when company, care and comfort is very much required. A mother when raises her kid, plays with them when no playmates are there, be a friend at the most needed times.....when they are alive no one to come to see them and after they depart from the world, crowds gather!!

    May her soul rest in peace.
     
    3 people like this.
  3. satchitananda

    satchitananda Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Megalife,

    Before I actually proceed with the contents, let me congratulate you heartily on this post. The style made me feel I was reading a Jane Austen. Your descriptions defy description. Thanks for such a delightful read early in the morning.

    Now coming to the contents, I am not generally given to tears. But I must say the last bit made me come close to them and brought a lump to the throat. It was good that you could bring a few moments of joy to the old woman's life just before she passed away. As for the children moving away and none of 5 kids being by her side, it is really very sad. But that, I guess is life. The fledgelings have to fly away. Their circumstances may or may not allow them to look back. It is heartbreaking to think that it has to be like this. Or that it is like this.

    What made me infinitely sadder was the fact that all the VIPs of the neighbourhood who came to give her a send off did not deem it fit to pop in and even say a hello to her off and on while she was alive. It is painful to think what our social fabric has come to.
     
    9 people like this.
  4. Megalife

    Megalife Platinum IL'ite

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    Thankx, this post was more of a self-realization that how little I am being able to give back to my parents, despite them leaving no stone unturned to give me the very best in life. Today, I stand tall and proud, personally and professionally because of their love and efforts!
    Yes, may the soul of this lady and all selfless parents who are no more; rest in eternal peace.
     
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  5. Megalife

    Megalife Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear Satchit

    Thank you, a lot...the care with which you have worded your post defines to me that you read my article with utmost compassion. Yes, thatzz was baffled me, they could spare hours to be their along with the 'who is who' of the society but none had the heart to stop by atleast once in awhile! And both she and her husbands were kind souls! Will this be our fate too! Can't help wondering!
    Megalife
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2011
  6. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Megalife
    This is your entry post in Snippets and I extend a hearty welcome to you!
    It is an awesome post and as Satchi has rightly pointed out, there is a touch of Jane Austen in your style. There is an undercurrent of melancholy that runs through your narration that prepares us for the inevitable end. But that it came so soon for the old lady was a surprise.

    I can understand your grief for the departed soul. You probably lit up her dying days in a very subtle way by just being with her. Those expensive cars created a traffic jam in that narrow road probably because they had never got accustomed to negotiate the road ever before. It was obvious that they had all taken the first and last drive to that road to fulfill a social obligation.

    The old woman down the lane. How sad it sounds! Did she feel lonely? Did she feel neglected? But it was obvious that she could take it all in her strides or she would not have lived up to her ripe old age. Dying in dignity is an art. One has to prepare oneself for it all his life. Living well is not half as difficult as dying well. I have seen old people cursing and swearing all the time when they are left all alone to fend for themselves and when they die, there will be a sigh of relief all around. But this old woman down the lane was surely dignity personified. She and her man Friday reminded me of the film Driving Miss Daisy.

    A wonderful post Megalife. Thank you for an emotional journey.
    Sri
     
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  7. Megalife

    Megalife Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear Cheeniya
    Appreciate your stopping by and for an awesome reply!
    "Dying in dignity is an art". So true, I saw dignity written boldly in a "Chinese letter pattern"on her old brow but surely she had no complaints, no laments about anyone or anything in life! But the pain deep down in her grey pupils was clear!
    Megalife
     
  8. vjbunny

    vjbunny IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Megalife...
    Very touching post left me moist eyed....And it is the case of all Aged Indians who have successfully managed to send their children abroad.....

    Wow your narration brought me the scene from "Wuthering Heights" which I had read decades ago...very good narration dear..
     
  9. kkrish

    kkrish IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear megalife
    Beautiful article!
    I was seeing the secluded home in Daphne Dumurier's Rebecca, and Driving Miss Daisy, all rolled into one.
    A very tocuhing story indeed!

    It was nice to know that the old lady lived her life with the dignity, not seeking anybody's help or pity.

    Your writing style is very enchanting and kept me deeply engrossed, vividly bringing the picture to the fore immediately.

    Thank you for this wonderful piece. I see another one of yours. Going there now.
     
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  10. justanothergirl

    justanothergirl IL Hall of Fame

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    Very moving post Megalife...!
     

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