It was just another usual afternoon. After having my lunch, I was planning to take a nap. Just that moment, I recalled that I had to go out and purchase some stuff that my mom asked me to. So I rushed to find some money; my pockets are usually empty and I had forgotten to ask mum for the money that I’d require. Anyways, after fretting over it for half an hour, I managed to find some chillar in the back of my purse. Ugh!
Meeting the Fragile Nagaland Beauty
So anyways I was just walking by the side of road, with pennies in my hand, covering my head with a chunni to hide my messy and tangled hair. Lol. My house is on the main road and there are two large and wide lane roads spread as far as one could see (since it is soon to be included under the national highway scheme). There are numerous temples of Durga Maa, Krishna ji and Shree Ram & Seeta ji. They are the main attractions of our town during festive season and are just the most beautifully managed and worshiped whole heartedly by the religious people of our town.
There is a Peepal tree near my house that extends to a row of Devi temples. Just there, I saw a poor old woman sitting in mud, with her luggage lied on the road. At first, I just passed across her. But then a thought popped into my mind that maybe I should ask her if she needed any assistance. I stopped right there and went back to her and asked if she needed any help. My first question to her was why was she sitting there with her stuff left aside so carelessly. She responded in a low voice, “Beta! I’m waiting for the traffic to get slow. I find it hard to cross the two lane roads. I fear the fast paced vehicles.” I was like, “OMG! Even I can’t cross the road on my own”. Lol. Well, jokes aside, I had always feared crossing heavily trafficked roads since the remembrance of one accident that I met in my childhood (where I was hit badly by a bike, when I was on my way to candy shop and my head got injured) could never leave the safe yet dangerous adobes of my mind. The picture has faded with time now but there is this ‘phobia’ always there inside of me, when it comes to crossing roads. I tend to hold my friends’ hands or just ask someone to help me cross the road if I’m alone.
So, there I was a bit struck, when she explained her problem. I asked myself, “How could have I helped her when I’m myself smitten with that very fear?”
I tried to drive my thoughts and the constantly developing fear away, even if just for a few moments. I was sure that it’d not take much time to cross the road if we took quick steps. I picked up her luggage which was in form of a gathri and asked her to come with me. I had reached the middle of the road when I realized that she wasn’t walking with or even, behind me. I looked back and saw her crawling and moving with her hands like a kid who relies on his foots and hands to walk. That’s when I realized that she had a broken rib or something and can’t walk. I was afraid that if she keeps on moving at that pace some vehicle might hit her. So I instantly rushed back and hold her up from my other hand and asked her to walk comfortably with me. We managed to get to the footpath between the two lanes. The traffic wasn’t as heavy on the 1st lane if compared to the 2nd lane. There were trucks and buses, rushing so fastly that my fear caught up on me again. I breathed in and out and concentrated on the lady. I took her hand again and we started to move forward to reach the end of the wide road, that seemed out of reach, at that very moment. I could see people looking at me with their eyes coming out of their holes. I could tell what they were thinking – How could a Brahmin girl touch the untouchable? Well I don’t care! Stare as much as you want. *Shruggs them off*
Getting to know her
I was having a hard time handling both, the lady and her luggage ’cause frankly speaking, I’m not healthy enough and the lower limb of my right hand has paraplesis. But I guess that’s okay. She was the weaker one here. Just then she fell off on road, trying to reach for my hand and I had to come out of my thoughts to help her. There was this giant monsterous bus moving towards us and I got so panicky. I signaled them to stop or at least reduce their speed, Geez! I managed to reach the end of the road somehow with the lady who was sweating and shivering badly. *In Your Face, Beeping bus driver!!*
It was then that I started my curious interrogations with the old lady. I shot questions like a rocket speeding at beeping light years per second. I asked her where she came from and where she was heading to. She told me that she is from Nagaland and had her family members lost to death. She couldn’t even recall how she reached Rajasthan; she just said that she found herself lost here, one day. She tries to gather money by begging people on roads but some bad guys take away that money from her. She told me very sadly that she had managed to gather 10 bucks that day but that too was grabbed by some guy who had beaten her to death when she resisted. She doesn’t know who those people are and where they come from. I couldn’t help but feel connected to her. I offered her to get her to her place to which she replied that she doesn’t have a home. She lives nearby the railway tracks with a poor banjara family who had adopted her. They live in tents made out of sarees and just provide the right support to the woman that she needs. I really appreciate those people. Respect! But still they can’t be there for her whole life, they can’t stop people teasing her or snatching her money from her. Nobody hears the cries of the poor. I feel nothing but ashamed. I asked her to come to me if she faces any such problems from now on. I know I’m not a healthy person but I do have the guts to take a poll and beat the crap out of such sociopath people.
Just how much pain was buried under her pale dried skin.
The woman kept on telling me about her life and the terrible and nice people she had come across. I noticed the lady carefully; her clothes were torn apart, she was covered in mud, she had some serious wounds on her legs. Her teeth had left her company like a betrayal lover, who speaks of life long commitment when the sun shines beautifully but disappears like a forlorn fantasy during hard times. She looked so fragile and I couldn’t help but wonder just how brave is she to still kicking in this nasty world.
She didn’t know when she jumped from one topic to another. I’m sorry to have to say this but she was talking absolutely pointlessly. I guess she is in a severe mental trauma, I could tell; who wouldn’t be after facing such difficult times at such an old age? All she needs is a healthy support and help to get better and I pray that she reaches that stage soon. Later I heard from my mother that people here call her a freak and keep throwing comments on her. What’s the fun in making someone’s life miserable when they already are on a dead end? Seriously people, go get a life or just jump off a valley or something!! *Disgusted*
There came out a chirpy little girl from nowhere, with her hair tied in a pretty pony tail, running towards the old woman and she hugged her tightly. I’ll sum up the story of that tiny girl’s relationship with the old lady, to save your time.
She was from the banjara family that I’ve mentioned earlier and calls her Dadi lovingly. The old lady told me just how great these people were to have supported her till now. The girl explained to me how badly people treat the lady and grab the money from her; that she had to go, see a doctor and take medicines for her leg wounds; that how her little saving of 10 bucks got snatched from her in the middle of the city. I smiled at girl and showed her my home and asked to bring the lady after 3-4 days to my house. She chuckled happily and nodded in agreement. I had something going in my mind. I bade good-byes to them, purchased the stuff that I supposed to (finally!) and rushed back to my home since it had taken a longer period of time for me outside than I was supposed to come back to home.
Realizing the ‘Need’ of an Action-Plan
Right upon entering the room, I was welcomed with the polite greetings and words like ‘awara‘ from my younger twin sisters. LOL. I didn’t pay attention; I had to get something in action.
It didn’t take me a second to call my BFFs and ask them to help with my plan. We planned to gather some clothes and money for her that I’d give her on the day she was supposed to visit my house. *So so proud of my friends, Vicky and Micky!!* Even my mom, herself, gave me some of sarees along with some other useful stuff. I prepared a healthy lunch for her, the day when she was supposed to come. She seemed to like it, however I know that I suck at cooking. Her face glowed up like a nightingale and thanked me for the stuff that I presented her. I felt satisfied; not happy, not delighted but just satisfyingly content.
I don’t know why but giving her the money didn’t seem like a good idea to me though. It was supposed to be for the purpose of seeing a doctor and to purchase the required medicines but I didn’t really think that she would do that. Either she would end up spending it on other stuff or just getting the money snatched away from her by the so-called gundas of our innocent town. Also, people who are poor and face such a hard time in life don’t really realize the need to recover or get better. They just assume that the life is only going to be worst so they end up accepting the way life is and spending money on not-so-good things. So instead of just giving her the money, I considered to take her to the doctor myself and get her the medicine and fruits. I’ve even thought about visiting her place that is near the railway tracks sometime and get her to an old age home where she’d at least be safe from the creepy, dangerous and judgemental people. I think that’d be the best for her. An old age home will offer her free shelter, food and medical services too. She will be able to live in peace then and recover faster. So, I’d try my best to console her whenever I see her the next time. Lets see how it goes.
I guess I should finish this post now and search for some good old age homes nearby so that I also can visit her from time to time. If you happen to know any that could take care of her nicely, please let me know soon (in the comment box) !
Have a blessed day!