On that cold December night, they both walked down the alley which opens to the famous MG Road, where they thought they would be able to hear some noises, see a few unknown faces instead of the same old doleful past memories flashing indomitably before their naked eyes. The two of them didn’t talk to each other for a good few minutes. Neither of them exchanged any questions about their day as they knew the answer wouldn’t bring any joy for them. Fighting silently with the familiar feeling of dejection, which they have known for a year now, they hid their faces under their caps and buried their hands into the empty pockets of their ripped blue jeans. One looked at the gleeful faces of the family clicking pictures together with his blurry eyes and, the other momentarily stole glances of the starry night. After rambling for more than an hour, they sat down on the empty left side of the bench under the tall yellow streetlamp.

Their hearts were so cloyed with the blues that it ceased the noises of their empty stomachs. But it didn’t fail to reach the ears of the old lady sitting on the other side of the bench. She quickly read the faces of the two young men, understood their misery, and decided to be the one to break the silence.

“Aren’t you young people feeling cold? Do you live nearby?”, she asked while wearing the warmest smile on her face. The 22-year-old hadn’t seen a cordial smile for at least a few years now as he was always told to be useless to invest their love and time in him to help him grow. Unknowingly he, the youngest, stared at her comforting smile until the eldest of them responded to her question by saying yes to her. It was a lie. Eleven months ago, they were kicked out of their houses when they failed in their start-up business and have been paying the debt since then, without fail, by sacrificing many things. They would eat one time a day and do many part-time jobs. They also gave up their single room to save money. Tried all sorts of things to keep the money lenders away from reaching their families. They were completely tired of looking for positivity everywhere.

The old lady believed in their answer and added, “So you two are here for a walk, I guess. It is good to stroll in the neighbourhood, especially when you are young and surrounded by such a beautiful place. Now that I am old, I could no longer walk up to the end of this street without any support. But it does feel nice to just sit under the twinkling sky. Isn’t it?”

Strangely on that day, they were unable to recall the meaning of the words ‘feeling nice’ and ‘good’. Foreign language? No, of course not. But they no longer were familiar with any of these emotions. Acute stress and anxiety made them numb which they eventually realized only while the old day asked the question. They started to think about themselves and slowly the clouds of thoughts occupied their mind again in no time.

THUD!!! A passer-by with his tripod tripped and crashed into the old lady’s side which made her walking stick and his belongings fall all over the road.

The sound of the stick striking the floor was so loud for them that it eventually heaved them from the pit of awful memories. The old lady put her bag aside and began to try to reach her stick which was lying down. One of the boys, when saw her struggling, quickly got up and picked it from the ground, handed it to her, and said, “Oh Granny, you could have asked us. You might hurt your back if you stoop more.” Then the old lady again passed a beautiful reassuring smile and said, “It’s fine young man. As long as I get my stick back.”

She sat back adjusted her scarf around her freezing neck and continued to talking “In life, you sometimes have to bend/fall not necessarily for your own mistakes but to know who will help you to rise. To know how will you rise. But if you observe whether if someone helps you or not at the end you will rise with confidence. Because by that time you’ll be holding onto the thing which will set you free from depending on others. At the end, you are the one who is going to win, grow and inspire many.”

The two adults were astounded on hearing these simple words from a complete stranger. The strange comfort and the hope they got from it awoke the zeal and soul inside of them. Suddenly their surrounding got colourful in their eyes and soon the laughter of the people and the clanging sound from the food truck entered their ears and, they were wide awake from the past. They saw the old woman leaving but her face, her words, her smile were printed on their hearts forever. For eternity.

A tinker bell with a pen and lots of stories to tell✨