'It was right here.' Lima muttered.Her eyes wandered everywhere.Scanning the whole place with her intelligent eyes.
'Where could the bus go??I surely didn't lose my way..'she thought almost in tears now.Lima felt helpless.How would she find her way now??She didn't even know the local language. Frustated she kept her bag down with a thud and sat on it with her head buried in her hands.
Lima was in her twenties.She was a college student studying in Korea.She had come to India to make a project report on the culture and heritage of the Himalayan people.She was a beautiful girl. She had green eyes that were wide like open windows…one could see innocence in those big eyes which were sharp and noticed everything. She was tall and thin and had an athletic figure. Her skin was pale and her pitch black hair always fell on the right places on her face making her look more beautiful. She had something unusual about her face, something almost magical; one could not resist seeing her face again and again. Anyone could like her instantly.
She sat there-motionless. Suddenly someone tapped on her shoulder startling her. She got up hastily and stared at the stranger who stood there staring at her in return. He was a lean fellow, with shabby hair and clothes that were on the verge of coming apart at the slightest pull. ’He was definitely very very poor” she thought. But somehow she didn’t like him. He looked so impish, something about him didn’t look good.
‘Didi app yahan kaise?’ the boy asked.
‘Uh??’ said Lima confused.
‘You lost?’ asked the boy and grinned an ear to ear smile proud that he managed some English.
Lima nodded and bit her lip in nervousness. Then she grinned back at the infectious smile in front of her; happy that he knew something about English.
‘I am Lima.’
‘Want help? I help you.’ He said proudly
Lima giggled and then said ‘Yes that is very kind of you.’
‘Where you want to go?’
‘Do you know Hotel Transcript??’ Lima asked crossing her fingers.
He nodded vigorously and then said ‘You follow.’
While they were conversing an old lady had been noticing them for a while now; her face alarmed at the sight. When she saw them go she panicked and hurriedly went over to Lima shouting something in her local language.
Lima stopped amid and watched the old woman as she approached them; Her reaction confusing her.
‘Didi she mad. Follow me. said the boy nervously.
But the woman didn’t look mad to Lima. She seemed so kind . Something was so sincere about her. There was a motherly feel about her that made Lima to not want to go and help the woman with whatever was troubling her.
She looked at the woman sympathetically.
The old lady now stood near them. Panting at the exertion of the sudden run she had made. She said something very harshly to the boy.
She was scolding Ramesh perhaps.’ thought Lima silently. She stood there listening then argue, she was growing curious with every passing moment but there talk continued for quite some time.
Lima couldn’t keep patience any longer. She said, ‘Any problem?’
‘No no.’ said the boy hastily. ‘She mad.’
But Lima’s gut didn’t buy his “she mad” excuse. Lima stared at the old woman for a long time and the woman stared her in response. There was silence, complete silence. But the silence conveyed so many things. At last the woman nodded at Lima once and then took her hand and took her with her. Lima didn’t protest. She seemed to trust her. She just followed her like a dog follows his master without any question. The boy was shouting something in the background. But nothing mattered , everything drained out as the distance increased. It was just Lima and the old woman walking hand in hand perhaps going to her house.
It was an old and small house , almost in ruins. Lima’s sharp eyes scanned the house from top to bottom. The interiors of the house were shabby and it looked like the old woman barely mad out a living. The house had only the minimum required for survival. ‘Poor her!’ Lima thought. The house was poorly lighted and it was dark inside.
The woman looked at Lima and smiled. Lima smiled back. The woman gestured and asked Lima if she was hungry. Lima nodded at once. The woman gesture Lima to sit on the bad near the stove and started preparing food for her at once. Lima sat down and stared at the woman as she worked. After sometime her eyes became heavy and in a matter of time Lima was in a deep slumber. When Lima woke it was already dark. Night had fallen and there was another person in the house. It was a girl, younger than Lima.
‘Your daughter?’ asked Lima.
The woman looked at her confused.
‘No. She my grandmother. ‘said the small girl. ‘No parents. They died……’she paused and then continued,
‘Grandmother no English. But I know. I go school.’
‘Oh’ mouthed Lima. After sometime she said ‘I am lost. I missed my bus.’ explained Lima. ‘Do you know Hotel Transcript? ‘inquired Lima.
The girl moved her head in denial and said something to her mother. The mother said something back to her. The girl listened to her carefully.
‘Me Reshma. The boy in the day time was bad. Grandmother fight with him to save you. He robs people.’ She explained earnestly .
Lime smiles in gratitude and said, ‘ Thank you so much. But can you help me in any way?’
The girl and her grandmother had a discussion for a long time and then she said,’ We don’t know the way. But bus comes everyday. We leave you there then you can go.’
Lima smiled relieved at the solution.
The rest of the evening was spent in eating food and talking with each other. Language was a barrier but they somehow managed it.
It was a sunny day next morning. Reshama had gone to school. It was just Lima and the grandmother. Lima sat in silence observing the old lady weave her way in and out of a basket she was making. At noon the woman finally got up from her work and gestured Lima to get ready to go. Lima took her bags and stood outside the house while the old lady locked the house. She again nodded at Lima and took her hand and led her to the bus stop just like before . While Lima followed the old woman she felt a sudden rush of emotions inside her.
‘That boy could have done anything to me and it wouldn’t have mattered to this lady in the least bit. After all who was she to her. No one. But still she had chosen to stand by her and even fight with the boy just for her. No one would have done that… not even her friends. But this lady had gone out of the way. She had given her shelter without expecting anything in return. She had given her food when she could barely manage to fill her and her granddaughter’s stomach. She and her granddaughter had slept on the ground so that she could sleep comfortably.
Who did that for a stranger??’ Lima asked herself.
‘This old lady has treated me as her own. She gave me love that no stranger would ever give. Even though they could not talk, even though language was a barrier… this old lady had conveyed so much through her actions and eyes. Words wouldn’t have done justice to what the silence had done. Truly a universal language did exist and love was that language. Love didn’t need words to be expressed. Its something which everyone understands. In 24 hours Lima and the old lady had built a bond deeper than any other. ‘Lima thought with tears in her eyes.
They had reached the bus stand and there the bus stood waiting for Lima. But her legs refused to leave this place, to leave this woman who had loved her so much… Lima sniffed back her tears but they fell like rain. Reshma’s grandmother frowned in disapproval and hugged Lima.
‘Thank you. I love you ma.’ Whispered Lima.
The old woman smiled and this time her smile was brighter even than the sun. they both seemed to understand each other, especially this one time.
‘India wasn’t that bad after all.’ Muttered Lima as she sat on her seat and waved to her new found family with a grin on her face. There were no tears anymore. There was a sweet happiness to find a home away from home.