Back from the ashes

She’s ’60 something’ years old. A frail structure with clothes almost hanging off her bones. Extremely unkempt grey hair curling and meandering all over her tiny face. She’s a moving picture of zero self care through the years. You can find an uncanny resemblance between her physical form and that of the stick she leans on. While she peels vegetables sitting at a harrowingly empty dinner table, you can see a photo frame in the background — perched upon a shabby cabinet embracing dust through the ages.

The photograph is starkly different from what you see now. The lady in the photo is smiling ear-to-ear, pearl white teeth glistening like the sun on a reflective surface. Surrounded by a handsome male in military uniform, three giggly kids and the same cottage in the background — only more colorful and vibrant.

To compare the old lady with the 20 year old woman in the photograph was almost heartbreaking. Fine lines had created a map on her face magnifying her life’s journey. Her face was sporadically dotted with peaks and valleys and some rivers that originated at her droopy, squinted eyes and never left the map. From her pace and style of movement, you could judge that she hadn’t left the house in ages. Why someone would volunteer for house arrest was beyond my imagination but I am sure there’s was a rationale behind it that I shouldn’t judge.

An eerily annoying sound started taking shape right outside her fragmented window, it was disturbing at first and unbearable after a point. So much so that the old lady had to look up and go ‘Tch!’ like she was scolding a little boy for being naughty. As I saw her get up from her chair and peep outside, she witnessed a rabble of bees encircling an area of her garden. But thanks to her problematic vision, that’s all she could decipher from the distance. I am sure she was devastatingly irritated by the sound as she made her way towards the door pushing it open with the help of the stick. Her face gave away the fact that she was unhappy to be outside but as she moved towards the swarm of bees, I saw her eyes shimmer like she saw gold! And there it was — a tangerine Dahlia looking up at her with the grace of a ballerina in her elegant tutu. I wanted to desperately capture this picture in my memory to remind myself often, what hope looks like.

The next morning, the door opened once again. This time the old lady had a beautiful crimson hat on, a floral dress that looked adorable against her wrinkled skin and yes, she carried a basket with a few garden tools in it. With an inch of a smile at the corner of her lips, she trudged towards the Dahlia like she was waving at a long lost friend. As she sat next to the flower and admired her garden with a sense of pride, she had discovered meaning and a sense purpose once again. Nature has strange ways of calling you, picking you up from darkness and bringing you to light, I thought.

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Incredibly uninhibited story teller.

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Sampurna Sengupta

Sampurna Sengupta

Incredibly uninhibited story teller.

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