Today I am thinking of writing about a lady I never met and I have been contemplating for long to write about her. I have don’t have any relation with this lady but somewhere in my mind she exists. I just don’t know what‘s the connection but she is there in my mind as tired and haggard lady. The first time my friend Barb and I talked about this lady I pictured her in my mind. That day I got into my frame to write about her but somehow couldn’t do so. Today I got up and while shaving suddenly felt some familiarity knocking my mind…I again felt her in my thoughts…I wondered that how this lady is still in my mind…what is that by which this lady keeps me hooked to the world which she lived and surprisingly I see her life which is contained in many unwritten pages and confined to mute walls of subway in her own her solitary confinement to life. I wondered and asked myself was that life chosen by her or given to her other wise by the indifferent entity in proximity to her.
However, right now I am not wondering because I somehow understand the purpose to live her life in my obsessed transient mode to be as she once existed. Why I am trying to be like as that lady was; you may think as absurd…many may call me eccentric or mad…No my friend I am going beyond and yes, going beyond the dimensions of established perceptions. My dear friends no perceptions can ever deter me to say things which may perhaps would look very odd. I need to live her in my soul so as to understand how she lived her life. How her life was? Why it was? While doing so I am embracing her soul. I own her death, owning her pain rather her entire life. I own her so that she possesses me to say things which she never said before. She could never say that in her life…It could have been that she must have yelled then to be heard, to talk about her pain but the world refused to listened; she must have questioned but world never answered.
Thinking all this about that lady at the moment I am totally immersed into her soul…Let me recount what she must have thought during her last moments in the sub way…Let me take you under the subway where in her flickering moments of life she is recalling in her thoughts the story of her life.
Sun has set in and darkness captured the every nook and corner of the city. Cold winds in its fury mocked the warmth away. At nearby park she gets up from the bench and struggle to orient, to find a way; not knowing where to go. Her instinct has withered with time and frail physical existences trying hard to remain firmly embedded to the ground and for that she is using every ounce of energy to move further. Heavy wind in its nasty mode challenging her as if now decided to knock her down to settle score with her and that too once for all but wind fails. lady could hold the lamp post clutching to her worn out and tattered coat but the wind in its piercing audacity seeps in to rub her parched skin with merciless ferocity. She looks up at the backdrop of flickering street light the flakes of falling snow and deceptively smiles. She remembers that place near the fountain and talk to herself.
“Oh! Yes I met him first time there…there near the fountain we saw each other…Yes, John I have not forgotten you…I remember you were wearing dark blue pullover …you were on your roller skate…and there near the bench you slipped and I laughed…you looked at me…and you know what I saw…I saw those deep blue eyes…Oh! So innocent you were…so tender you were…you adjusted your skates and left…I giggled then…wasn’t that day it was snowing too… I remember how my eyes followed you till you skated far away and turned into by lanes…Yes, John I have not forgotten…that evening how could I forget…that day too there was a heavy snow storm…how can I forget My John.”
As she was in times which she lived therefore, couldn’t hear somebody calling loudly; “hey! You lady, can’t you see storm is gathering …go and be safe at your home.” As she heard this she comes back to reality and mumbles words to herself, “Yes…yes…I need to be at home…yes man, I need to be at my home…”She looks back again towards that fountain to find somebody. The screeching sound of shutters of nearby shops being pull down momentarily muffles her past… storm is gathering fast…she mumbles again “Oh! I need to go.” She pushes her way towards the central Library but realized her strength weaning. Storm is now picking up and mercilessly wiping everything around which lacks strength to hold on with. She looks up and somehow could drag herself towards the subway and on reaching there slither down in one corner; breathing heavily. She remains there for long without moving…motionless but her mind reeling back into the times when she and john passed through this sub way many times. It was here he took her first time in his arms to kiss her. And here she rested her head on his shoulder. “Where are you John” she asked in her thought…as if finding shoulder she pulled herself up and rested her head against the wall ….so cold…so dry…so life less this wall… “Why John…why you have gone away…why you left me?” As she turns her face away from the subway she see the faint light emitting from apartments of adjoining high rise building and on seeing that she sigh, thinking it must be very warm there…somebody’s home…they must be so comfortable…
She is talking to herself “My daddy when came out of Army I remember he purchased apartment there in that building with his meeger income he couldn't really afford that…but he did it …my grand pa was very proud of him… huge family with three room apartment…but my pa could keep us together as one. He was the protector…not only for his kids but for his old parents too…he gave a beautiful world to all of us…myself Reni, David our dear Mama…what a wonderful ma and pa were. It was a beautiful world. They are gone…we don’t have that roof over us…they are dead. First to go was grand ma; she died of Alzheimer. I remember when my pa came back from funeral he was totally broken and wept throughout that night and my ma consoled him. Grandpa maintained a stoic silence as if he understood something. He couldn’t survive that winter and died in his sleep. My father thereafter for few months remained very quite…I remember he worked in nearby foundry…he always cursed that job and used to talk about his days in Army. And when we lost David, my brother in Vietnam war, Pa and ma got the biggest shock of their life…they couldn’t withstand and in few months they too passed away…first my Ma due to pneumonia and then within month my Pa due to massive cardiac arrest. Their death made us orphan. Not knowing what is going to happen to us; Reni my elder sister took up a job in nearby bakery and somehow she could manage two meals for us in a day. Within a month I too left my school as it was getting difficult to manage life with meagre income. Initially it was very comfortable but with the turn of events the entire life begins to crumble. Reni fell in love with a chemist by name Stanley; he was well educated and smart. Within few months they both got married and Stanley moved into our apartment. I remember it was my 18th Birthday when John proposed me and I accepted. We got married and after one month he left for Alaska to work on a fishing trawler. Yes, he was to come back week before that year’s Christmas, instead the news came that his trawler in mid-sea collision with container ship got sink; twelve persons were rescued but John’s body could not be retrieved. Then I was carrying his baby. My life shattered and against the wishes of my sister and my brother in law I gave birth to Tim. I never knew that my life there onward would be draft as failure. Not knowing the nuances of life I drifted in my course. My sister warned me but to me everything was appearing to be winnable; in my sinister arrogance of youthful exuberance I presumed everything as surmountable…not knowing that fate is weaving a tragic time for me. Few more men came in my life and I very honestly loved them and made all efforts to them to know that I am the right woman but they all vanished. They were the mirage of my life. I kept chasing the error but in the bargain I gathered dust of life. I tried hard to keep my son with me but he too drifted away from me. One Night my sister at the behest of my brother-in-law, Stanley, threw me out from her house; saying that she cannot take me any more. I didn’t know where to go and that night was very cold and I was in open and exposed to vagaries of life and weather. Yes, that night I came to this subway and subway became my home. Thereafter I lost all the sense of reality or I just pretended to be as if I wanted to punish God. I wanted God to be in pain to see my plight. To escape I got into drugs but that too could never erase my good old times; it could never take away my son and my John. My son Tim at times used to come and meet me not with sense of any affection towards her mother but to dole alms with sense of pity. With years passing by Tim turns into a smart good looking Young man, with chiseled jaw and yes with same deep blue eyes of John. I never missed my visit to church on Tim’s birthday to pray for his better and safe life. I never give him any gift. With passage of time my son got married to beautiful girl by name Liza; a daughter of Town’s famous musician but I was not invited and I knew why. I reconciled to my fate. During chanced encounter my son at times used to ask me about my welfare but Liza never and somewhere instinctively we both knew what was better. Realizing all this I slowly convinced myself to sever all expectations and it was a deliberate decision. For almost five years I never met him neither he ever tried. Life suddenly became very silent and if ever any time the past tried to resurface in my emotion I just smothered down mercilessly those invasive thoughts with large dose of cheap liquor and drugs. My own disowned me so as time too. Past lost his relevance and the present time could not hold the future. One day almost seven years back I fell unconscious near the fountain…yes same fountain…Do you remember? The same fountain where I saw My John first time, yes there he slipped while skating. Few passerbies took me to the hospital and there I was told that I am suffering from Cirrhosis of liver and they cautioned me that any more reckless drinking would invite early death. For the first time I feared death. Fearing worse I instinctively dragged my feet towards my son’s house. On my way to his home I picked up flowers. I remember It was Sunday morning, I could see from the distance Tim was about to get into his car and then I saw a small baby in his wife’s arms. That was my grand baby and I just didn’t know what made me run towards them. I wanted to have glimpse of my grand child. As I reached there, I gasped for my breath and saw a troubled look at my son’s face…he was uncomfortable I understood and stopped there and just couldn’t move a step ahead…we were motionless…He said “Please…please mom…”that gesture of anger and aggression from my own son made me move no further and I understood…yes I understood…not this life my son…no… yes I have understood…I talked to myself. Breaking the silence I asked my son is that little angel a baby boy or girl, he answred baby girl…My last words to him was… “Keep her safe my son” I turned never looked back and never seen him again. I pretended lies and carved my remaining days in the wilderness of this world because truth failed me many times and the pretended lies took me away from the reality; though reality could not hurt me any more…I reached beyond…point of no return…”
“And as I looks towards that window I see life…I see my Tim…my ma, my pa, David…Reni…Yes, I see life…I see the world in which I lived. Storm has calmed down, winds are no more lashing, everything is quite and it is so serene…I hear the glee from far distance…I need to go home….............”
And she close her eyes…Her last words were…"Ma… Pa I am coming..."