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But I could not get the image of the blue diary, and the beggar’s wrinkled face and painful eyes out of my mind. Her eyes spoke so much about her life…
One afternoon at a busy railway station, at the corner, I saw an old woman. She was wearing a multicoloured saree tattered from every corner and soaked in dirt. Her hair was frizzy and appeared to be dirty. Her face showed the hard wrinkled journey of her life, and eyes carried the stillness of an ocean.
Someone had given her a piece of bread which she was gorging very quickly. After finishing it, she wiped her hands and mouth with her saree. There was a tea stall at a distance, which she stared at with lustful eyes for a while. Seeing no hope of getting a cup of tea, she took out a blue diary and pen. She shielded the diary with her saree, and started penning down something.
Noticing this, a seed of curiosity rose in my mind; until now I had been thinking she was just some beggar.
As the loud honk of a train entering the station shook me out of my thoughts, I went near that lady and peeped in her diary, unable to control my curiosity. Sensing my prying eyes, she hid her diary with her saree. Annoyed, I gave her a “Go to Hell” look and went back to my seat.
Now, the seed of curiosity was playing a ping pong game inside my head. How did someone who must be a beggar know to read and write? Above all why the hell was she begging if she was educated?
After a while the friend whom I had come to receive at the station arrived, and we left the railway station. But I could not get the image of the blue diary, and the beggar’s wrinkled face and painful eyes out of my mind. Her eyes spoke so much about her life, and I was anxious to know more about her, and also about the blue diary.
After a few days I made another visit to the railway station, and to my satisfaction, she was still there. This time she was fighting with someone at the top of her voice, and the quarrel had managed to gather a small crowd. As the man suddenly lifted her hand to hit her, her voice dropped and she ran for her hiding place. I followed her; the woman had hid under a nearby staircase, her eyes red and filled with tears.
Her weeping melted my heart and forced me to go near her. I bought food from a nearby stall and kept it in front of her along with a Rs 100 note, and urged her to eat. She bent down, collected the food and the money and ran…
The next day I was back at the station, with sweets and home cooked food. I wanted to help her get out of this miserable life, and for that I required time and patience. Without wasting much time I straight away headed towards the place where she would usually be.
There was chaos all around at the station; I overheard a few people speaking about somebody’s death on the railway track. Cursing the dead person for creating such a chaos I resumed my search. When I couldn’t find her at her usual place, I went to the nearby tea vendor and enquired about her. He casually replied, “She jumped in front of a train an hour ago, all this chaos is for her.”
My mind went blank, I stood numb. Over the weeks I had developed a slight attachment for her as a human being and I had wanted to help her. I had wished to know about her misery, and had wanted to drag her out of it. My mind was not at all ready to accept the fact that the lady was gone.
At that point at the busy railway station, my questions were left unanswered, but the incident taught me an important lesson in life.
We all ignore things that don’t really make a difference to our lives, deeming them unimportant. Had I not ignored the lady on the very first day, I could have saved her life, could have been able to help her towards a better life.
“She was a widow, had studied till the 8 or 10th class, and knew to read and write a little, in Hindi. A few years back, her son had left her, and she had no idea of his whereabouts, except for his phone number. He had kept in touch for a few months, but suddenly the calls stopped. Since then the lady stayed at the railway station hoping to see her beloved son one day. She had jotted down his number in the diary so that did not forget it. She would beg, and every day, also jotted down the amount of money that she saved for him.
The morning she died, she had finally met her son. He was in a local train with his wife and children. She ran towards him with happiness and straight away hugged him, tears floating down her cheeks. But to her great dismay her son kicked her and tried to shoo her away, and told her how she was nothing else but a burden for him. Ignoring the insult, she tried to reason with him and showed him the money and the diary as a proof. The man snatched the money, tore the diary, pushed her away, and left with his wife and children. She got up and called for her son for one last time, but he did not turn back and left in a hurry.
Her last ray of hope gone, she jumped in front of a speeding train.”
Image source: pixabay
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