Friday 15 September 2017

Short Story 2017 Shortlist Henal Jhaveri

Old Lady at the Bus Stop

I see her, I see her every day. She is never late. 3 O’clock is her routine. Dressed in a night gown, a worn look on her face. She wears spectacles and always has a wooden stick to support her. She carries a little plastic bag with her which contains a bottle of water and sometimes a small box of snacks. She reaches the bus stop at 3 pm sharp and does her daily job of sitting.

The first time I saw the old lady, I thought she was waiting for a bus just like everyone else. But then after a few days I noticed that she never got onto any bus, she just arrived on her time and sat there. She did not appear to be homeless or poor; her demeanour was nothing like that. She might have been beautiful when young, but now that pretty face wore tensed wrinkles. This old lady at the bus stop made me very curious; I wanted to know her story. Why did she spend her entire noon at the bus stop in such scorching heat? Did she have a home, a family? These questions were making me inquisitive, so I decided to ask my mother if she knew anything about the matter. What I came to know was both shocking and very depressing.

The lady resided in the lane opposite to us. Her husband had passed away, so she lived with her son and his wife. They were far from a perfect family, and had plenty of fights quite regularly. Her family didn’t really treat her with respect or care. So, to escape all the worries, she made the little bus stop her haven. She would sit there the entire noon and just gaze at the pace of the city. I was quite disturbed by what I heard, so I started observing her closely. Every day I saw her there, sitting quietly, lost in her own world of thoughts. She couldn’t stay in the comfort of her home as she wasn’t happy there. The place where people came to commute was her halt of comfort.

One fine day when I was returning home from college, I saw her crossing the street. She was a little sluggish so she was holding back some of the moving traffic. She somehow managed to cross and went to the chemist shop on the opposite end and was purchasing her own medicines. I felt pure anger, anger towards the people who were responsible for her circumstances. She was at a delicate age and she shouldn’t have been going about crossing roads or buying her medicines. Her children needed to do that for her. It’s their duty, the least they could do for their mother. The lady who taught them how to walk and fend for themselves, was now struggling all alone to find her way amidst the worldly chaos. While her children should have been her support system, she had little choice but to rely on a piece of wood.

We live in a country where we respect our elders and seniority plays a vital role. Even then such instances occur and our whole belief system is ruined. This one stranger has unknowingly touched my life. Things wouldn’t always work out the way we think they should, that doesn’t mean all hopes should be lost. Rather we should find our own way, and find that little haven. Just like the old lady at the bus stop, we should find ways to keep ourselves happy and not complain over trivial happenings. And most importantly, this incident taught me that we should respect others and especially elders. After all you reap what you sow!

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