It is a common perception by everyone, a thought that finds its way into our minds somehow or the other, a thought that is often our Mayday call, a thought that is both comforting and revitalizing at times and yet a thought that leads many of us into giving up on life in all its colours. “LIFE IS TOO HARSH WITH ME”, I myself do not know how many times I have taken shelter behind these words for my shortcomings. Never did I have the slightest idea that it will be overrun so easily on one fine day as I chat away my time with a complete stranger. Her story is both interesting and depressing at the same time, yet it bears the light to show the way to forlorn hearts in a most convincing manner.
It was a day in our ComMed posting. We were out with aprons on and our semi-structured questionnaire ready to complete our survey on the elderly in the Ladyhill area of Mangalore. To those who have been through this academic ordeal, I do not need to mention the inconvenience caused moving house to house in the scorching afternoon sun and the occasional hot slaps that the wind so kindly bestows.
The view is still lucid in front of my eyes. House No. 27, Mrs. Saroj Kushwaha, Retd. District Judge. My heart took a leap as I read this. Finally, a person I can expect to easily converse in English [as I am a little less proficient in Kannada like most of us ;)]. A smart looking lady wearing a neatly tied saree with a hairstyle I prefer to call The Indira Gandhi type came to the door to answer our call.
“Good Afternoon ma’am” I said and started with our usual chain of introduction, “We are from KMC and we are conducting an independent survey on the quality of life……….” Having grown used to it by now I expected her to throw us out even before I finish with my sentences. However, luck seemed to be smiling too much on us that day. She on the contrary, found us more interesting than we ourselves did.
“Come in”, she said, opening the gate for us to enter. We entered her living room and as soon as we were seated, she asked her domestic help to fetch some cold drink and snacks. I couldn’t believe my ears. It felt as if the Gods had finally answered our prayers. We were being treated with respect and not being looked down upon. I guess her hospitality is what brought us to ease, so much so that we ended up with more information on her than we were supposed to obtain. Not to forget her friendly attitude and motherly nature that she told us so much about herself.
“So you are second year students?” she asked.
“Yes ma’am”, I replied.
“Hmm…even my son used to study in KMC. He also did a survey last year. What is your sample size?” she asked.
“206, ma’am” we replied.
“So how many have you done?” she asked
“Only 50”, I said and in an attempt to further get her interested added, “Most of the people don’t want to fill the form and give some excuse or the other. Besides our questionnaire is a bit long so….”
“Ya, I know” she said “My son had the same problem. I can help you though. Tomorrow we have a meeting of our NGO for the elderly. Many of our members are above 60. If you can come there I’ll introduce you to them and you can get your forms filled.
My heart skipped a beat. It was as if…..I just can’t tell you how it was. It was like being granted a boon without having asked for.
“Ya sure….we’ll come” and quickly asked her the details of their meeting.
……………………..to be continued.Wait for the next part:)