One of the first differences I felt when I moved to US was how our typical morning never began with getting milk or the call of the milkman unlike in India. Here we get a gallon of milk in plastic cans that have the best-before date printed on them and this lasts 4-5 days for us. A gallon is 3.78 liters for those uninitiated into the US measure of gallons, pounds and miles that are the counterparts for the Indian measure of liters, kilograms and kilometers. Thankfully time is measured in minutes and seconds just like how it is back in India. But that's beside the point. On noticing that our milk-can reached near-empty state, I decided to replenish it from the near-by farm. Before you jump up in excitement, this farm is a plush departmental store named "Bristol farms". It feels nice to think that we get our milk fresh from the farm and so I like to call it just 'farm'. So there I was, on my way to get milk from 'farm'.
A retirement community is located in the same neighborhood and generally a lot of the elder population also comes to shop at the 'farm'. They usually come in groups, generally around 11am in the morning and wander around leisurely in the store, chatting about loudly when they make their purchase. For some strange reason, although it was a bit crowded, only one counter was open. When I queued up at the billing counter, there was an old lady ahead of me with her list of purchases who I think was alone for she was standing quietly by herself. She gave a hesitant smile which I promptly returned. The rainy weekend earlier seemed to the most favored topic for a conversation starter and she commented about the same. "Its been a lot of rain lately and unexpected too ", she began to which I replied "Yes, the forecast said it was only for the weekend". She continued oblivious to my reply, "Oh I love the rain, it reminds me of when I had to bundle up my children for school". Mind you she looked quite old, may be well into her seventies. So I just smiled politely and asked her for how long she had been here in San Diego and she took a long walk down her memory lane. She said she had been here for more than 40 years and how less crowded this city used to be. She went on to say she missed the hustle-of her home-town New york when she first moved here and now she feels more at home here. She would have reminisced more about her life but the clerk at the counter greeted her and she bid a hurried goodbye saying "All that is long gone, but I'm happy now". The way her eyes shone when she spoke about all those times of the past were in sharp contrast to the somewhat drab look they had when she smiled hesitantly.
After I paid for the milk and walked back home, I could not help but think about her parting words feeling that she had now accepted that times had changed and she too must move on... Sometimes just an ordinary chat with a stranger makes you evaluate life and introspect. Life is not easy when your loved ones are far off and the heart does what it knows best, it feels. At such times, it is hope and the priceless memories that carry us through.
My chance talk with the old lady in the store prompted me to pen down this haiku-
Drab eyes pulsate joy
clutching dry tendrils, wistful
bygone times relived.
This post is shared with 3WW and the words for this week are Drab, pulsate & tendrilPicture is from Google images