The angry old woman

I am always haunted by a lingering restless feeling whenever I have a work to do and I haven't still gotten around doing it. And by work I mean anything ranging from cleaning my cupboard to say, writing a term paper. The kind that involves going out and meeting strangers, though, particularly give me that restless feeling with the greatest intensity. It is a hard character trait to live with. So anyway, I woke up today with the full intention to complete this little work that needs to be done as soon as possible. I needed to pay a visit to the post office to post some documents to a friend. Now I am at this time of my life when it hardly matters what day it is. So it isn't surprising that I didn't remember that today is the 2nd of October, the birthday of Gandhi. A national holiday. So of course the post office was closed. But I hadn't realized that, and so this morning I took the hard decision to step out of the comfort of my house and made my way to the post office with anticipation to get this little but bothersome work done so that I could breathe again. But as it turned out I am still not relieved of this irksome duty.

As I was walking back home, though, the disappointment of the unfinished business was not the only thing occupying my mind. I still hadn't fathomed what day it was today when I saw the locked doors of the post office. Excuse me for my extra slow mind these days. My first thought was that maybe it wasn't functional anymore. And then I wondered if it was closed for lunch. Anyway, I started to walk away concluding the only thing that mattered was the fact that it was closed and there was nothing I could do about it. And just as I was leaving I noticed this old woman sitting beside a little shack quarter the size of the usual ones you see in Delhi slums. It looked to me like she was peeling something she held in her hand. I thought she would have an idea of the how-abouts of the post office, considering she was living only a few seconds from it and must have observed it more than she cared to. I walked towards her with the intention to ask her if the post office was closed for lunch or if it generally remained closed these days. She saw me walking towards her and fixed her eyes on me. As I began talking to her, though, I got the most unexpected of reactions from her. At first she'd simply stared blankly at me. So I repeated my words thinking she hadn't heard me correctly the first time, only to be interrupted by her sharp words. "What nonsense are you speaking?!", she demanded to my utter surprise. My mouth simply repeated the query regarding the post office as I absorbed her reaction into my system. "The post office caught fire. Now get lost!", she barked at me. A part of me wanted to ask what the hell was her problem, and that she should learn how to talk properly to people. But all I did was stand and stare at her in total silence for a while, after which I gathered myself together and walked on like none of it had happened.

The post office obviously hadn't caught fire. I would have noticed a thing like that, and in case I missed it the Delhi public would have made sure it didn't escape my attention by circling around the commotion, as is the habit in this city. The old woman told me that simply because the biggest care in her life at that moment was to get rid of me. Period. The rest of the way back home, still surprised by the unexpected exchange with the old woman, I wondered what made her behave the way she did. I had never harmed her in any way. It was, in fact, the first time ever that she saw me and I her. One thing I noticed, that although she sounded so angry and mean I saw no anger or bitterness in her eyes. In fact, I saw nothing in her eyes. She seemed to be having a very ordinary day. And she seemed calmly lazy, the way we usually are while doing the mundane things of life. Maybe that is why I was as surprised as I was. I hadn't expected her to sound like that, looking the way she looked. And I wondered why she was so bothered by my presence. Was it because I looked different? Or did she generally hate people? And I wondered what life would have been like for her to make her who she is today. She probably has no friends. And I wonder how she would have reacted if I had stuck around and insisted on talking to her. Would she have attacked me with the knife I think she was holding? She really did want to get rid of me. I wonder what could possibly make someone so immensely bothered by a human presence around them. And I wonder if it is going to be fixable. 


  1. the thoughts written are worth reflecting upon... good reading


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