Kickoff written by kauvery hospital

A Penny For Her Thoughts

This month the life beyond doctors section gives y

‘A penny for your thoughts’

She was startled hearing those words, clearly and firmly spoken, over her shoulder. She turned to look.

This was the old man she had noticed striding along the walkways in the park. She often went there to sit on the bench and gaze at the ducks in the water. As she did not want to be distracted or disturbed by anyone she always chose a bench close to the water, with her back to the walkway. She would sit for hours lost in her miserable thoughts and utter loneliness. She had however noticed him. He looked very old, with a thousand wrinkles on his face, but stood tall, straight and trim. He had a briskandsteady walk. She found that very unusual. He had smiled at her every time their paths crossed but had never talked to her. She never smiled back, but occasionally she would look down the path to see whether he was back on his next round.

That day he broke the ice.

‘Mind if I sit down?’ He inquired, in a very soft, gentle and polite voice. She noticed the twinkle
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in his eyes and an amused smile hovering at the corner of his mouth.

‘I may not be the company a pretty girl like you may prefer. Perhaps you think I am a hundred years old? Well Iam actually 105’ he laughed. His laugh was light, bright and self-deprecating.

She was at a loss for words. She was by nature an introvert and it was hard for her to cheer up instantly. It was not easy to climb swiftly out of her well of depression and despondency.

‘Oh No’ she stammered. ‘I thought you looked good for your age’.

‘Ah, that is a complement you do not get often from a young lady at my age, thanks’. He was pleasant and gallant. Much to her surprise she felt herself warming towards him. It was such a strange feeling. She could not remember when she last talked to a man young or old so spontaneously. ‘You are quiet and thoughtful. Also sad and distant. That made me wonder what is on your mind. I should not be asking, I am a perfect stranger, sorry’, he said.

She was silent. She thought over what
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he said. He waited, patiently, as though he had all the time in the world.

She bent down, took a stone and threw at the water. It fell ‘plop’ and created a ripple. He picked a few stones and threw them, at different spots on the water.

Many ripples were born, grew and expanded. The ducks scattered in alarm.

It was as though those ripples flipped a hinge and opened a flood gate.

Thoughts and memories came rushing out of her mind and tears began to flow.

They flowed for a long time. Gradually her world began to appear lighter, brighter and more hopeful. She had not felt this way in a very long time.

She did not know how much time passed. She sensed him sitting patiently, utterly relaxed and quiet.

When at last the tears ebbed, she turned to him with a shy, apologetic smile. He smiled, got up, and said’ ‘I will see you soon’ and walked away.

That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. He would often joke about it and say ‘The Beauty and the Beast’.

Words began to come out easier
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each time they met. Staccato words grew into sentences and then, into paragraphs and pages. The ropes with which her feelings and thoughts were strung together with tight knots began to unravel slowly. Her crowded, chaotic and confused memory began to see light, and shed its dust and cobwebs.

Finally she concluded the story of her life which she had begun to tell him in bits and pieces. ‘I do not even know how I ended up as the last leaf in the tree of my family. I remember the shouts, screams and the gunshots and recall the numbing fright as my mother yanked me up to tuck me around her waist, grabbed the hand of my brother and ran behind my father to the boat. He was holding firmly the gnarled hands of my grandparents and dragging them along.

I sensed we were leaving our island country behind in a great hurry. Tightly holding my mother’s slender waist I turned back to hear more gunshots very close to us, see my grandmother falling first, then my grandfather who had pa
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