“Why are you looking so dry today?” was her regular question to me. The usage of “dry” was really not meant to point out my ignorance about moisturizers or my firm abhorrence of all kind of alcoholic beverages. Some people love using metaphors. She explained, when your inner world looks like drought-driven earth your face shows it pretty well, you look dry. That might be true because I was not happy where I was working that time.
During my 1 year tenure I found her friendly. In fact if you ask me to name 50 most favorite people in my life, she remains in the top 20.
I learnt many lessons from her. She spoke about her life in detail; especially about a phase where she lost her mother. I used to run away from that part of the story because that used to scare me the most. I am an escapist when it comes to stories of grief involving dear people.
She was elder than me, that age gap she used to rephrase as – surfing experience; “I’m just an experienced surfing survivor here.”.
“Life is all about surviving. You live once and you live it by letting go. You let a lot of things go and keep spaces open for love, only love; that’s the surviving rule.” She revealed to me once.
She was a strong lady, the breadwinner of her little family; she was struggling too at work and her solitude, but not unhappily; her husband was working on a creative field, away with his camera most of the times.
We chatted mostly during our 20 minutes long post lunch stroll. On one hot summer afternoon I was little disturbed after seeing a homeless couple having lunch from a broken bowl. In India, poverty is a real issue. Actually poverty is same everywhere, in both developed and developing countries. In rich countries, it takes more money to buy things. In India, you can afford a cup of freshly made tea and warmth attached with that, without being rich.
“You know, those people are happy. Nothing matters when you’re happy and loved.” She tried to console me, “You know what real poverty is? Staying in the deep dark cave of loveless-ness. When you’re loved, even a starry dark sky looks like the roof of your safe home. Those people are happy with each other. Money is not an issue there. You stop worrying.”
I didn’t understand what she meant. I just stared, nodded and perhaps labeled her “just another ignorant.”
Many years later, I see a man listening to his old radio under the dark sky in a park where I go to run. He keeps his belongings attached with his bicycle that he parks a feet far from him. He never looks at us, the runners on the trail. He keeps his eyes closed and ears close to the radio. Sometimes I see him sharing his dinner with another lady while the radio keeps breaking the frigid silence of the park. He smiles when she talks. Sometimes the sky shows the stars, sometimes the moon lightens up the mood of the park. He sits there peacefully, unaffected. And I remember what my friend told me about poverty, love and life.