“Madam, you forgot your purse said the old man, who was standing behind the bench, she had been sitting on, for a few minutes now. He looked in his mid-sixties. She slowly turned to look at him with hurtful eyes.
“Thanks” she murmured.
He got a glimpse of her watery eyes in the moonlight, as she bent to pick up the purse.
“I wish I knew what that tear was doing in your eye, it doesn’t look good there”, said the man with a calm and soothing voice.
The woman, who was now turning to go away, lost all her self control and started crying loudly. The old man gently guided her towards the bench, and sat next to her.
There she cried on. For a few minutes, then in between her sobs, she said weakly:
“I understand” He said quickly.
After hearing those words, a wave of peace washed over her soul, and she stopped crying. There, they sat in Silence. After some time, mustering up all her courage, she started in a disheartened voice.
“Its…Its…him, my son. Last month, when he was just 5 years old, I brought him to this park. Here, he ran round-and-round the trees, hid in the bushes, and collected different types of leaves falling from the tree. Every time he would find a new kind of leaf, on a stone, he would come running to me, shouting ‘Momma, see what I found!’ as if he had discovered some big treasure. On the way home, his ball fell from his hands and he ran to collect it. From the other side a speeding car was coming. I ran after him to stop him, but it was too late.
Today… Today is… his birthday. “A weak sob emerged somewhere deep within her throat, which got disappeared in the distant howling sounds. “Let me tell you something” said the man, “The reality is that you will grieve forever, you will not get over the loss, but learn to live with it. It will take time to heal and to rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. But, always remember, my dear, “Those whom we love, don’t go away, they walk beside us every day. Unseen, unheard but always near, still loved, still missed, and held so dear.”
She looked up in his golden eyes and stared for a while, amazed by the comfort she was getting in his words.
Suddenly, a cold night breeze flew over her, making her hairs fly across her face, exposing the jewellery which she was wearing.
The man noticed this and said in a serious voice.. “It’s late at night, and it’s not right for you to wear all this Jewellery. Yesterday, a woman was returning home from her workplace, and two thieves came on a motorbike and took all her jewellery. This morning the police recovered her dead body from the bushes. Here, take this Paper and keep all your jewellery in this, and put it in your bag.” He said with some hesitation, which went unnoticed by the woman.
She quickly, took out her necklace, earrings and bangles and placed them in the paper, which the man was holding. Then he wrapped the jewellery in the paper and said, “You know what, my wife and I had two sons, both of them left us for education and now they are settled abroad. When they were going, they promised to come back, but since then they never returned. We called them, mailed them and what not but every time they would say that they were too busy. Then, one day, my wife died of Cancer. She was my only support. Since then I have done nothing, but lived all alone.”
She him a gave sympathetic look and then asked with a curious voice- “How do you manage all the household chores?”
The man smiled and said “Yes, that’s something. I learned recently. When I was left all alone, I realised that cooking and cleaning are not a gender role, but the basic living skills. So you see, learning never stops, even in an age so old as mine.” he said with some cheerfulness.
The woman smiled a little at this, then she took the paper in which the jewellery was kept from him and placed it inside her bag.
“Thank you “she said heart fully, “It felt really nice to talk to you.”
He gave her a bright smile and then walked away.
On her way back, she kept thinking about him, as she was experiencing emotions, which she has never experienced since the death of her son…
When she reached her home, she opened her purse and took out the paper containing jewellery.
But as soon as she unwrapped the paper, her happiness turned into astonishment as she found that it didn’t contained her jewellery, but some packets of Tobacco and a matchbox.
She couldn’t understand what had just happened.
Her brain was not ready to accept the fact that the man was nothing but a thief.
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