Travel with a septuagenarian lady

Travel with a septuagenarian lady

Among so many pains there is one pain that is unique, called poverty

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
—John Holmes

The everyday ups and downs in our life mean that we are still alive. There happen incidents on a daily basis which try to abrade humans, but always fail to succeed, as it is ultimately the humans for which everything around exists, and who actually are in real command of everything. Understanding human life means understanding the indispensable part of humans – emotions.
As Sumo service is continuously overtaking bus service on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway since the shifting of the bus stand, sometimes I willingly prefer travelling via bus for certain reasons – first, it gives me a feel of student life by refreshing one of my memories, experienced by every student – the memory of excursion days. And the most memorable part of the journey always turns out to be the excitement when buses would overtake each other. Second, there are very often the stories one comes across that are rare to be found in any book or news.
A few weeks back when I got inside a bus, I found by my side a septuagenarian lady who occupied the window seat. As the conductor of the bus started collecting bus fare (which has been raised by the authorities) there were continuous verbal brawls. The lady sitting on my side said – “See, we are up to fighting with each other”.
“Where are you heading?” I asked that lady? “Srinagar,” she replied.
“For what purpose?” I asked again.
“I have an adopted child who no longer takes care of me,” she said. “I reside in a tin shed. I keep doing various menial jobs in order to collect some money with the hope of having a proper roof over my head some day. Aath chy na pranev wunmunt, Sera waw khoth chu dere waw (there is an old Kashmiri adage, ‘Want of house is worse than want of food’).”
Her hands had developed many rough calluses and had become like dried leather. She continued, now angrily, “Even though I have prepared some documents to get benefit of some scheme, but little interest has been shown. Stand at any office gate and see the faces of the people coming out of there. The faces will tell you the story.”
I realised that in the world of today, multitudes suffer not just because of low income, but because their emotions are disrespected. There are no listeners to their grievances, and very few who actually understand their hearts.
The woman surprised me when she talked gravely about what a commoner like her aspires for – not that they receive hundreds and thousands of rupees, but that they can easily access the basic needs of life.
Among so many pains, there is one pain that is unique and that is called poverty, she added. “Do you know why I call it unique?” she asked me. I nodded a no. “I called it unique because although we face hardships everyday but it doesn’t take away our happiness. We smile everyday unlike those who have victimised us for being poor, to such an extent that they have themselves gone from land to sky over time. People usually call me a mad woman after noticing my external appearance – my clothes. If you, too, are thinking like that way, I don’t mind.”
I felt embarrassed. “What needs to be valued?” she questioned me again. Then, instantly, she started answering herself: “Power? Money? Name and fame? Lavish lifestyle? Physical appearance? No, no… none! We just need to value the human, his being, by taking care of his emotions. And how is that possible? Only when we will value honesty, loyalty, sincerity, sharing, caring, compassion, small personal sacrifices. Tell those who are after amulets for happiness that the secret of happiness is simple – never ever devalue small aspirations and values of others, irrespective of their status.”
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