Odd’s On A Sunday Morning…A Vignette
January 23, 2011 3 Comments
Part 4: Before the House of God…
I walked along the SN Road returning home. In front of the temple there was a small knot of people where the old woman squatted on the edge of the road. Fearing the worst I rubbernecked and was greatly relieved to find the woman unharmed. The seventy plus woman had gotten so used to receiving a little money from me out on my evening rounds that she would be visibly unhappy if I ever ran short on what was due to her. I had promised myself much earlier that I would never get irritated with her – she reminded me of someone dear to me who was no more. If I saw her after a gap of several days, she would always ask if I had gone out of town. It was hard for me to make what she spoke – she was toothless and her tongue was Gujarati that I didn’t understand. On occasions she had asked for and got from me a raincoat, a blanket or some utility article.
Presently, I looked around to find out the reason for this commotion around her. I saw another old man whom I knew to be a man of some authority from the temple, pushing out with a thick bamboo stick the stuff the woman had piled up beside her – old clothes, plates dented beyond shape, unopened biscuit packets…had rolled out. The toothless woman, not giving up the kitten in the crook of her elbow that appeared to be well on the way to its death by strangling, was telling him in an even voice that she would shift her stuff to a spot some distance away by the evening. The old man would hear nothing of it as she had been warned many times before not to dirty up the entrance to the temple – every time she had made the same promise but did nothing about it. While he continued to sweep away her possessions a younger chap bent down and began collecting the things for her and earned a stern rebuke from the old man.
I did not have it in me to intervene on her behalf, and walked away.
Part 5: This time ‘chappal’ was on the other leg…
My wife answered the door when I rang the bell. She took one look at me and there was laughter mixed with a dash of embarrassment: ‘You mean you came walking all the way like this?’
‘Like what? I thought I look more homo-sapient now than when I went out – they show you the mirror at the saloon. My chappals are not interchanged. What else?’
‘Your shirt buttons are in the wrong holes, your collar is not turned up. Nobody stared at you on the road?’
PS: From my subsequent queries I learnt the bald guy on the bench had come for a scalp massage. In my walk on the SN Road, a couple of days later, as expected I found the old woman back at her station with all her stuff by her side and the kitten too peeking out from her elbow.