People who walk in once and touch you for life.

I went to my favourite temple yesterday night. It was a strange experience. I felt really guilty that I had not been there for such a long time. The priest and the helpers recognised me, and greeted and smiled at me warmly. It was so welcoming, it felt so familiar. Seeing the Goddess's face glow in the flame of the lamp, her eyes deep set, looking down on us all, made my heart skip so many beats I lost count. Since we came late, we stayed around till it was going to close, and just before we left, this little old lady in a saree approached my brother and asked him to help her break five coconuts.

While my brother was helping her, my parents and I started engaging in a little chit-chat, and I knew then how life makes you meet people who will touch you forever, even though they come into your life for just a few minutes. After asking about my brother and where he studied, she told us that she is a retired Science teacher, in the most perfect, unaccented English. From the small talk that we had in the temple up till we gave her a lift home, let me tell you about this amazing lady.

Her name is Mdm.Pushpa. She is all of 73 years old. She is a widow, and has been for the past 26 years. Her husband was Mr. Devan Nair's wife's brother. He passed away from too much of drinking and work-related stress, as he spent all his hours in the Trade Union. She told us her children were all settled overseas. Her Ph.d holding son is doing research in Oxford. Her daughter, who incidentally is also named Meera, has settled in New Jersey, and she does not like the fact that her grandson, who is only 15, is allowed to drive. I don't know about her other child. She lives alone in a small bungalow with a Buddhist maid. She came alone to the temple, and was intending to go back home in a taxi, and she could hardly walk. We asked her why doesnt she want to live with her children. And this is what she said, "Oh no no. I can't do that. I am too independent. I can't have them around. Even when my daughter was back, I waited till she gave birth, and then I told her to go back home. I need to be just by myself. And they need their own lives too. My only worry is what happens when I die. I told my brother I don't want them here, but he insists that they should fly down, because they will need closure. *she laughs* Oh well.. But I am very happy now." I just stared at her in amazement.

When we saw how much difficulty she had walking around, we asked her why didn't she get the maid to follow her. She replied, "Haha.. no.. I just need to get away from everyone some times.". Again, I am stunned. She was well-read and up-to-date. Although her hands and head shook slightly due to old age, she discussed with us issues that are so recent.. about Temasek Holdings.. about political issues.. about other stuff. She kept telling me, "Meera. You must study. Women must study. When my husband died, it was a good thing I had an education and a career. If not how you tell me? You must must study. Don't stop studying." My mum asked her in the car if hers was an arranged marriage. She laughed and said, "Nonsense! No way. I was terrible. Very rebellious! Gave my parents a lot of trouble. They didn't approve of my husband because he was from a poor background. But I didn't care. We had to wait ten years to get married. After that I followed him to London while he did his Law degree." And she chuckled.

Before getting out of the car, she wished us all the best and said how nice it was to hear us call her, "Paati", which means Grandmother. She told my brother, "Attitude is very important. That's the only way you can survive in Army." But she didn't know that I took that more liberally.

Attitude is the only way you can survive.

A timely lesson I had to learn from an amazing, amazing woman.

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3 Responses to “People who walk in once and touch you for life.”

  1. Hi, finally found my way to your site! Nice to read your posts again!
    Take care =)

  2. Hello Hello Says:

    Y no pics..Miss seeing yr pics.

  3. Ambiga: hi sweetheart! we finally met in school fter so long, and i finally have your blog add. ;) take care too my dear.

    Hello Hello: haha.. i miss seeing my pics too. but i dont know how to work this wordpress thing yet. you should hv seen the difficulty i had trying to add links to the sidebar!!! argh. :)

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