Tuesday, September 1, 2009


The leaves having washed off their impurities from the morning rain glisten with pride. The birds twitter with delight at the prospects of the grub from the softened moist soil, while the insects recently incarnated from their cocoons buzz around looking for life to feed on. The earth is alive with the predatory instincts of survival. The glory of this moistened renewal hides the evolutionary instincts of living. Man and beast both are beset by similar sets of harvested needs. These need grow and multiply in packets of desire. These needs however change with the changing of the seasons of life. Summer changing to fall mutes the unquenchable wants of desire  and converts it to the daily desires for comfort. The need to grow gives way to the hope to preserve. This life cycle continues unabated through generations. As age looks back at youth and sees the frivolity of the desire, the backdrop of history becomes the fore prop of thought. And life goes on. Predation ends and survival begins.


Basking in this ritual of renewal under the bright sunlight day is a lone figure. Age has come slowly upon her. Quiet like a church mouse slowly eating away at the scattered crumbs of life- the eyes too shaded to see, the ears too dampened to hear and the hands too gnarled to work. She stands almost erect but for the slight hump just below her neck. This, her body hides beneath the colored display of chiffon and cotton. Her face is lit with a smile, more of amusement then pure delight. The crow’s feet around her eyes deep with intent and her mouth slight pouting at her attempt to complete her chore soften a little as the birds alight from the trees flying towards her. She stands affixed amongst this array of nature’s bounty. Slowly as the rising flag on the flagpole her arm flexes her hand into an open palm. There are breadcrumbs there. Within minutes she becomes an aviary of frolic and fun. The birds singing and twittering to each other flying around her eventually with their wings flapping rest on her hand and partake in the feast. Different colored ones of different shapes and sizes all circle and wait their turn.


With the hand empty of food, the lady slowly lowers her hand. Her smile fades as she turns to take a step back to her house. Her foot catches on a muddy mound tilting her form. Gravity pulls and yanks at the fulcrum of her being and she falls. The air rushes out of her mouth and a deep groan escapes her lips that no one can hear. She lies on the wet ground. Her left arm held hostage to the weight of her body while her right arm appears angulated into dysfunction –bruised or worse broken.


She tries to move, kicking at the mound that brought her down only to realize that such movement causes more pain. She tries to roll over only to find that the arms that push and pull are held hostage. She tries to yell for help but there is no ear within earshot – thus no sound is emitted if none is heard. The tragedy of a momentary lapse in gait plays out from seconds into minutes. She finally rocks herself from side to side and rolls over on her face. With one hand released to function she puts her weight on that hand to lift herself up, but the tortured hand with weakened sinews, atrophied muscles and arthritic joints cannot hold together the weight of her body. With Herculean effort she pushes with her left leg and is finally able to bring her knee up. Finally, an hour later, muddied and bruised from the battle she gets up and limps along the graveled driveway to her house.


Her strength eludes her and she collapses on to the chair in the balcony,nursing the bruised and bloody skin from a lonesome ordeal invisible to all but her.

“Hi.” A little girl stands with a lollipop in her hand. She is nearing her fifth year. She is wearing a red polka dot dress as she straddles her white bicycle. Her hair is neatly pulled back in a ponytail tied with a large red ribbon.

“Hello sweetie.” The older woman replies.

“My name is Kathleen.” She says.

“Nice to meet you Kathleen. Does you mommy know you are here?”

“No. I am just riding my bike.”

“Would you like to have some cookies?”

“Yes, please.” She answers in the most adorable way.

As the lady weakened from her fall tries to get up, the girl cries out, “You are hurt.”

“I am alright.” The lady protests.

“No you re hurt. Look at all the boo-boos.” She looks alarmed.

“Just a little hurt. I’ll be alright.”

“No, I am going to get my mommy.” With that she peddles away furiously.


The night falls and after an examination by the doctor who finds only bruises and scratches on her skin and a torn ligament in her right arm that now is hammocked in a sling, she rests comfortably in her bed. The husband, wife and the beautiful little girl say their goodbyes. Kathleen promises to visit and share a cookie with her the next day. The world with all its disjointed sarcasm still manages with all the snubs, rubs, fright and spite, to foster goodness. Human kindness creates a wealthy network of resource. What Kathleen will learn from the experiences and wisdom of the old lady is what cannot ever be learnt from the books. What the old lady gets from Kathleen is a priceless companionship. A little girl in a ponytail with a heart of gold, a gift of love and a touch of an angel, flowers the world of an older woman, is the tincture of medicine the world needs to survive beyond tomorrow. 

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