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Monday, 19 January 2015

Touch

"Bala,motar ka thambli?", a weary voice behind Akshay enquired.He turned around and saw a hunched old woman.White hair,front teeth missing stooped low , a stick in one hand and a cloth bag in another gave an impression of a woman well over her eighties.Akshay was on his way to his hometown.The state transport bus that he was travelling in had broken down causing all passengers to disembark.Frail ,old and in a state of confusion the woman had approached  him enquiring why the vehicle had stopped ,addressing him as child as she did so.He glanced at the harried bus  conductor before turning his attention to her,"Aaji bus bigadli aahe". Grandma bus has broken down wont go any further.

It was decided that the passsengers would be accommodated in other buses that passed down through the route. The passengers all huddled behind the conductor as he drew out the list of passengers. The old woman, with eyes that sunk well into her sockets, was squinting down the road. Akshay asked her destination. She didn't answer. She seemed a little deaf. He asked her again, louder this time."Jejuri",pat came the reply and her eyes twinkled.

Jejuri was a religious place of worship with a temple dedicated to a form of Lord Shiva, serving as the central hub of devotional activities.Her son had seated her in the bus and she had been left to her own devices thereof.She was going to offer obeisance to the God and seek his blessings for the well being of his son and his family.

A bus arrived and the passengers jostled for space at its doorway. Barefoot and walking with difficulty the woman barely registered the commotion around her. Akshay decided that he would leave this bus and ensure the woman was properly seated. He swung her bag over his shoulder and grunted as he realized the bag was very heavy. He held the woman's hand thus freed.Her hand was soft. He looked at the woman's eyes and they reflected warmth.She seemed ill at ease and completely oblivious to the hustle and bustle around.

Another bus came around and luckily enough halted in front of them. Akshay helped the woman into the bus and saw to it that she was seated.He tucked away her bag and requested the conductor of the bus to drop her at Jejuri.Just as he was making his way out of the bus the woman called out,"Kalji ghe. Mi devakade tujhi prarthana karte." Take care ,I will pray for you.
The bus left but Akshay was lost for words. The poignancy of the moment took over completely and he was at sea at the sudden rush of emotion that he was experiencing. He could only wonder how a complete stranger could so profoundly touch him.

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