The Old Woman

Now, it is time for the old woman's story. The old woman lives in a big mansion like home. With bitter gourd gardens in the backyard. Many stray creepers have grown in there, seeds flown in by birds. Sometimes, they happen to be those of pumpkin or cucumber. Her balcony makes a good vantage point to keep an eye on things. One look would tell her if there was too many weeds. Or if the villagers intentionally left their cattle in there to graze off everything. Or if monkeys came down from trees during siesta time for that bunch of bananas shining yellow from the distance. The timid scarecrow had stopped working on them long time back. She would sit in the arm chair in the balcony and stare at the garden for hours in the afternoon. 

She had three sons and three daughters, in no particular order. The eldest son, who also had a son who was married off to a princess-like beautiful punjaban in a sea facing five star resort, was a rich one. He had had his drunken wasted days of early youth. Later, however, he purged himself of all evil and rose into the top ranks of a big private company. The middle son was settled abroad. There is, obviosly no further need to elucidate his prosperity. Very little has been heard of him across the decades, he was the bright one from birth, everyone knew. The third son is slightly wayward. His eyes are always red, either from the insomnia, or from alcohol, or from heartache. It's hard to guess. He has spent a lot of the money of his older brothers on innovative business ventures, all of which have almost failed. He has stayed close to the mother, not in their mansion like home, but in an apartment in the city, three hours away.

The three daughters, most of whom were married off early and to the likes of school teachers who made some more money in tuitions, or to those who worked in government offices and got rich once in a while, from bribes etc, stayed close to their mother just like their youngest brother. They visited almost every month with their brood of several children, toothless sons and daughters clad in colorful frocks. When they stayed longer in the summer, or during puja, a swing was tied in the balcony. They, along with their grandmother would keep an eye over the garden and let out shrill screams to scare cattle away.

Everyone that came, the old woman took around for a tour around the house. The comfort and the warm air was almost sleep arousing. The beds and the neat bed spreads, cupboards empty and waiting to be stuffed with things when the sons came home, the dressing tables for the daugher-in-laws and grand-daughter-in-law. Air conditioners for people who came from colder lands, the ones with fairer skin and less of our earth in them.

 At the end of the tour, the old woman who was just skin and bones and hence swift as an eight year old, would sit on a gunny sack full of paddy and narrate how her husband was a lazy bum and how she held the horses soon after she was married at sixteen, so on and forth.

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