Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Lost Old Lady

I saw her at a bus-stand on a cold evening, she was old and wrinkled. Her face showed years of frowns, smiles and tears... all leaving a trail around her eyes. I didn’t realise I was watching her... as she took tiny steps towards the bus, almost like a child. She was on the thinner side, a little frail and I wondered if the autumn breeze would carry her away. Her eyes were distant as if she were looking into her past, wondering where it all came apart, and there was a tinge of sadness surrounding her. She reached the empty bus-stand and sat on a long, rusty bench, that creaked with the weight of her world.

   I could see her from the stairs of my house where I was sitting, buses came and went but she made no attempt to move. It was getting dark when I began to get curious...Was she lost, or waiting for someone? It was too cold for an old lady to be sitting outside at that time. I walked up to her and said hi.

She looked at me, and smiled the most genuine smile I had ever seen. It was the first time someone had spoken to her. I smiled back and asked her if I could have a seat, she agreed almost gratefully. Sitting there in silence for a few minutes, I began to get impatient... There was a match on television that I needed to watch, so I asked her if she was waiting for someone.

“No,” she said, sadly.

Then I asked her if she was lost

“No,” she replied again...

Getting a bit worried, I asked her if she was going to stay there the whole night or go home...

“I am home,” she said.

She didn’t look homeless, I thought.  So I asked her if she was feeling cold...

“Honey, I stopped feeling ages ago...” I decided not to press her and said goodnight.

She was at the back of my mind all day, and I wondered if everything was alright. The next day there she was again, at the bus-stand... as if she didn’t move at all. I began to get used to her being there. I’d look out of my window to make sure she was alright, and sometimes even take her a cup of coffee. She’d act like I paid her rent, when I offered her the cup. As if I just did the sweetest thing in the world, but I felt horrible. Why wasn’t someone taking care of her? Why didn’t she have a home, children?

I decided to ask her after seeing her there for nearly a week, and her reply stunned me.

“I don’t remember, I don’t remember anything. I know this place, I know that I’m supposed to be here and I’m hoping I’ll remember someday. I am drawn her every moment but I have no idea why. The number on this stop, 16A keeps playing in my mind, but I don’t know why. I hate not knowing, I feel like I’m missing something when i’m not here. Like something is about to happen and I might miss it.”

“What about your family? Do you have children?” I asked her.

“Yes, two boys...16 years old. They are beautiful, they look just like my husband”

I was puzzled, if she had children why was she here all night alone. So I asked her where her children were
“I don’t remember, I saw them here last. I know that, I feel that... but I don’t know what happened.”
I asked her to go home, I told her no one is here, but she said they would come for her. I sat with her that evening, for hours trying to get her to remember.

She told me stories of her love, of her boys playing baseball, she described each feeling and at the end of the day I could picture their eyes, their smile, the feeling of being loved... but with each of that there was a heaviness in my heart.

Why was she here alone? What happened that was so traumatic she didn’t remember anything? What made her come here and wait all night...?
I always imagined my life when I grew old, to be loved and cared for, to have children and grandchildren. But how would it feel, not to remember at all?

I decided to spend time with her everyday, I was interested in her life... I began a quest to bring back her memories, but in vain. She sat in the cold everyday but could only keep recollecting the mischievious smiles of her sons as they ran around the house...she couldn’t remember their names but she sat there waiting for them. They had to be at least 30 years old now, but she waited and waited, she knew they would come.

On the day before Christmas eve, I decided to ask around the neighbourhood if anyone knew the old lady. 
Most people ignored me, and some said “She’s probably just homeless.” I finally decided to ask one last person, a librarian neighbour of mine. She looked out of the window at the lady with a sad expression on her face and told me to sit down.

“Her name is Eva. Nearly 25 years ago, she had come to pick her children up at the bus-stop. While running, a truck sped straight into them. They died in front of her eyes. Since then she’s in a state of trance, doesn’t remember anything. They say the trauma wiped out her memory.  She just sits there waiting for them, it’s sad actually.”

I agreed, it was truly devastating... looking out at Eva doze off on the bench, I couldn’t help wonder how I would cope with such a situation. Sometimes, I think I’m strong... but even I don’t know how I would handle losing someone so close to me.

I decided to do something to make a difference. I wanted to cook her a warm meal, get her a blanket and make sure she’s comfortable. She was asleep when I went downstairs with the plate, and she woke up and smiled at me as I nudged her. The smell of food and the sight of a blanket made her eyes water, whether out of delight or shock I till date do not know. She smiled at me and said, “I have a good feeling,”

“Why I asked her,” glad she was in a good mood

“I saw my sons today... while I slept. I feel them nearby”

It took all my willpower not to cry but I wasn’t going to be the one to tell her... so I sat with her, stared into the stars and talked about her children.

The next evening I saw her dozed off again, covered  in my blanket so I went downstairs with some soup. It  was Christmas and I wasn’t going to leave her alone. I nudged her awake but this time she didn’t move. As the blanket fell off, I saw that she was smiling...

The wind howled and I dropped the soup in fear. I tried to move her but was met with a scary stillness that I was not ready for...

I turned around to run, but stopped when I saw her face again, that smile was so peaceful and beautiful, its when  I realised...

All those years she was waiting, she finally found her children.


  1. A real life lesson, congratulations post. Fraternal hug from Brazil.

  2. I take it that you're a writer of short stories, yes? Well, I have to say that this entry here is quite the entry that creates the pondering on how we, the United States, could better folks like the old woman your story. There are tons of people in my town who don't look homeless but they stay in buses all day long or stay in retail businesses all day.

    Most people don't realize this but there is something wrong with their life. I know we have social programs like Welfare or Gov. Assistance which helps people who earn roughly 20k or under but we need find a way to keep track of our poor some how. This is why I support nationalization which means that every state has the same laws, regulations, and so on and so forth.

    Good blog, I'll be reading more.

  3. @Anonymous : Not really, This is my first short story, ever. I usually writer a few chapters of a novel and stop...
    I agree with you, there are people who things just don't go right for. Having a home isn't everything. Ive never been to the United States, but in the Middle East, mainly Dubai, its different. Everything is expensive, and lots of old people arent able to afford life in general, unless they are "Emarati"
    Thanks for reading

  4. My first visit and first read here. Thnx for the nice story :)

  5. Wow really great! You know how to be an observer, I observer people too. What there wearing, how they act. What they say between the lines. You really get to know people inside out when you observer them.

  6. Thank you Venie...

    @Anon, yeah as a writer, observation is very important

  7. Fantastic post!! It sure kept me intrigued till the end!!


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