© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
It was raining hard as I started on a Sunday noon for my escape long-drive.
Staying on the outskirts of town has the advantage of lower noise and longer roads. On one such long road I always saw an elderly couple sitting on the footpath selling vegetables, not plenty, but two-three heaps at a time. Cars stopped by frequently to buy from them. Many times they were just basking in the wait.
Today they had both huddled close under an umbrella held with one hand of each. They had covered the veggies under some plastic sheet, and with their wrinkled faces and twinkling eyes observed the rain. There also was amused expression upon those faces more likely due to the pleasure of rain rather than what it did to the people and animals around.
I felt a pang of pity, at this age in seventies such hardships may endanger their health. I cannot stop seeing/ imagining my father in every man that age.
I got down, parked the car and asked them to weigh me some vegetable. It would be so indecent and rude to offer them money without offending their pride! The old woman smiled and told me the price for what she weighed.
“60 rupees” She said.
“Can I ask you something?” I asked them.
The old man, cautious, looked at me. “What?” he said.
“How much average profit do you earn in a day sitting here?”
“Profit? Maybe three – four hundred rupees a day” he answered without any shades to those words.
“Here”.. I extended a thousand rupees note at them, and requested “Please go home and enjoy the rest of your day.. also have some nice food in hotel… can I please offer you some more money?” I am not rich, but not poor either.
They looked at each other and smiled. I was relieved that they were not offended.
“Asu de baba (Let it be)”, said the lady: “we have everything, we have a house in a nearby town and grown up children who earn a lot and take care of us. They also have cars. But we like selling vegetables, we don’t do it to earn, just because it gives us peace. We have sold vegetables since the age of 14-15. But we can’t sell them near our house as it may embarrass our kids. So we come here and sit in this quiet place, so we can spend time together doing what we love to do together. At this age we have just one wish: to be together as much as we can and then when the end comes, we want to go together”.
She added another small “vegetable token” of gratitude to my carry bag saying “This is from us to you”.
My father also doesn’t stop talking to me through so many people.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande