My mother seemed tensed. She remarked, “I wonder what happened to the old lady. The shop has been closed since quite a few days now.”
On the way to her school where she goes to earn her living, my mother had noticed a tiny betel nut shop in the corner. I also take that same route with my mother, but somehow this shop simply escaped my attention. I saw the shop for the first time when my mother showed it to me. It was closed, and the lady was not there. However, my imagination could see an old woman, with greying hair and a wrinkled body. She would be huddled in a tiny corner of the little shop, silently washing and cutting the betel nuts and leaves for her customers.
I thought that day, “I need to see this old lady, at least once.”
This was two weeks ago. And we haven’t seen the shop open or the old lady for these days. I never talked about this with my mother. But we both just directed our sight towards the shop when we reached that corner of the road.
Today, the shop was open. But the lady was not there. Instead, we saw a younger man sitting there. He looked healthy, I think. His dusky-skinned body with taut muscles moved while he washed and cut the betel nuts and leaves for the customers.
We were silent for quite some time. My mother said, “Something must have happened to the old lady.”
We were silent again.
My mother rephrased, “She must be sick. She will be better, I think.”
Back crept in the silence.
Mother finally settled with this remark, “Or, she must be tired, and her son is good enough to sit in her shop instead.”
I dropped my mother at her workplace and left for my own. I clung onto those thin rays of the warm winter sun which peeked into my being.