I thought of her as I sat in the balcony, sipping tea. My husband, Ramesh was putting his shoes on and humming a tune. It was time for our morning walk but I wasn’t too eager to go.
“You go ahead, I’ll join you later,” I told him. I felt restless. I had promised myself that I wouldn’t be upset, that I wouldn’t feel lonely and dejected. Yet I felt like a part of me was taken away.
Pangs of loneliness gripped me and again my thoughts wandered back to her.
I first met her in the park. I was newly married and was trying to get accustomed to married life and life in Bangalore. Being an introvert, it wasn’t easy for me to make new friends. Ramesh would mostly be away on official tours and I was often bored. I would sit in the park for hours, observing little children play or just soaking in the sights and the smells of the garden.
She sat on the same stone bench every day with her books. She always wore a scarf and a sweater. She had a beautiful collection of scarves.
“Are you new here, child?” she asked as I sat next to her and I warmed up to her instantly.
As we got talking, I told her about myself, my family back home and my husband. I gathered that she lived alone as her husband had passed away and her children were settled abroad.
We met regularly after that. Despite our age difference, we became good friends. She shared her love for books and suggested that I should start reading to keep the loneliness away. Geeta Aunty introduced me to the love of books and transformed me into a bibliophile.
I admired her more with each passing day. Her independent way of living even in her seventies, her enthusiasm and her charming nature amazed me. What impressed me most was that she never complained about having to live alone. She believed that her children were in no way obliged to look after her.
She pampered me and cooked my favourite food when I was expecting my son. Later she would babysit him to let me go out with Ramesh on weekends. Our bond was beautiful.
When she passed away, I requested her son to give me a few of her books and a scarf as keepsakes.
That was twenty years ago.
I pulled out the beautiful paisley printed scarf from the cupboard.
Today, my only son had flown the nest. I had vowed to never feel let down. In one weak moment, I wished my son had not moved to London. I caressed the scarf and felt the weakness dissipate. My reserve returned. Our son was not obliged to sacrifice his ambitions for us. I knew he loved us in spite of choosing to live miles away. With renewed enthusiasm, I walked to the park wearing a scarf.
I felt her presence as the golden morning sun warmed my soul.
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