No one knew what age she was, some say 238, a living legend. Though all knew the recipe started in the stories long before our lifetimes, her refreshing chuk-chatni that she sold every day made the poor feel new. Visiting every door of the village, her old face and trembling hands told that she had been doing this for ages. Once being able to put the basket of her weeds down, she could never place it back on her head by herself. The common women asked her to take rest, all she demanded was for more work. I sit on the swing in the mud ground every afternoon, once I returned from my school, and wait for her eagerly. And as soon as she arrived next at my doorstep, with her basket full of my favorite spice, I immediately ran inside to inform my amayi that Moed has arrived. she was known as moved. But despite her weak body and worn out face, she greeted everyone with her warm and affectionate smile every day. Occasionally, bringing sweet, ripe guavas for the children of the village. Her sweet guavas, sour chatni and pure, unconditional love for the village children had won her little admirers and her eyes easily explained that this was one of the reasons they always sparkled, despite being so old.
At the tender age of seven I wonder why, at this age, she had to work. I always wanted to ask her if nobody cared to look after her in her family. Or was it that her low family income forced her to sell goods in the low paying market, and sometimes on the streets too. But I could never ask. All I could do was to stare at her. Her eyes always told that she had seen enough, but they didn’t give an answer ever.
There was not a single day during the past years that she had taken a break from her work, it was the only buttress to her next to nothing income and content to her unfulfilled, meager life.
Only time could tell me where she lived. My school bus always passed by her little headstone and I used to wonder what she would be doing.
The day before the final Good-bye, I and my brother went to her hut to visit her for the first and the last time. She recognized us at once and the big smile on her face was self-explanatory that she was overjoyed at the surprise. She asked us to sit on the little charpai and offered the same sweet guavas with immense love and pain in her face.
That day, she told us about her family that she had lost during an epidemic in her village and that she was the only one surviving. She told us that her heart never allowed her to beg and that she was proud to be independent and content. She also told us that with the village's children, she always felt that she was with her own kleinkinders which is
the sole reason she loved us so much. The last tear she cried signified the strength, courage and pride with which she had lived all her life.
Despite being uneducated and beaten , she was a woman of values and self-respect. Like sitting in that little market hut, on a small charpai, the Moed had taught us the lesson of life that we are not what destiny has provided us with, but what we choose to be. Her chuk still adds sweetness to my dreams. Her name was courage.