The old lady

Sitting in the veranda, was an old lady. Her glasses, perfectly balanced on her nose. She shook her head from right to left drawing imaginary lines on a newspaper placed on a table.

The sun warmly lit the November sky. Silence was disturbed, momentarily, by the chuckles of children playing on the street. The old lady enjoyed the to and fro movement of strangers and acquaintances. Strangers got a blank look; whereas, the acquaintances received greetings followed by a lengthy smile.

Her shawl was neatly folded and kept on a nearby bamboo chair. She loved talking as she turned the pages of the newspaper. Her friends – a cup and a saucer, a quite chair beside her and her humble shawl – listened to her peacefully.

This peaceful daily act was disturbed once in a week. She welcomed and longed for this disturbance. At a distance a bell would ring which was followed by a speeding bicycle that glided on the gravel path and stopped right in front of her house. Like some miracle she would raise her head… to catch the sight of a postman.

Today was the day; the postman had showed himself after nearly a week.

Greetings were exchanged with warm smiles. Time was automatically spared from the busy schedule of the postman for the old lady. He would sit on the chair in the veranda. First a glass of water was served and then a cup of tea. Their topic of discussion revolved around – health, medicine and their children. Like a ceremonious ritual the postman would first check his watch, then get up and hand over her letter. She would collect it with the same exuberance of a child collecting candies.


Bundles of letters were stacked in the cupboard. All were arranged according to the year.

Time had moved forward. The son had moved away for better prospects. He visited the old lady in the form of many letters and some photographs.

Satisfaction was found in a mother’s heart that her son was well settled and doing good for himself.

On one side hung photos, and on the other side, paint was peeling off from this colourless wall. Her son’s photos appeared in the order of his growth – infancy, childhood, adolescence – and then additional faces appeared – wife and a son.

After a while the photos had stopped appearing, but the letters had continued.


In a city apartment, was a sofa, a center table, a foldable bed and a kitchen stove. On a shelf, in the room, at a far corner was a trophy with initials at the bottom – Leo S. The surface of the trophy reflected a humanly face. This young face had an uncanny resemblance to Leo S. He had promised Leo S. something.

And today as he sat down to write…

Dear Ma,

…nothing came to him. He had been doing this for the last five years. Every time he wrote he remembered his promise – Please don’t stop writing letters or she’ll get worried.

Today, he struggled with words. His desire to continue a lie had pressed his soul hard and made his heart heavy. The old lady was ignorant of Leo’s death.


Leo was a guard at a bank. One day, when the robbers attacked the bank and the people, Leo’s bravery fetched him a trophy but it also drew a wound in his stomach. All he thought it to be a small wound, but it was not. It became the reason of his slow and untimely death along with his ignorant attitude towards medication.

In the room, where the trophy was still standing victoriously, a decision was being formed.

Bags were packed and young Leo was ready to go.


Years back, a traveler had come from a village. Today someone will be tracing back Leo’s steps to reach a someone dear in the village.

5 thoughts on “The old lady

  1. What a lovely, but sad, story. I really like the image you create of the old lady sitting on the veranda watching life go by. Her collection of letters and photographs are what makes her content. To discover that her beloved son has died is so very poignant, and the decision made by the faithful friend makes it even more so. His decision is understandable and probably the right thing o do, but we now know that the old lady’s contentment is soon to be shattered. A well crafted story, Norma.


    • Thanks for the feedback Millie. 🙂 I didn’t know but this story was just playing in my mind and I had to write it. Mostly I write and then don’t publish but then I just hit the button to share this one. I didn’t want it to be a sad one but it turned out to be one. We don’t know, if he would tell her and what he would tell her.


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