I sit in the General Hospital, waiting for my turn when I hear a loud wailing. Expecting to see a child, I am shocked to see an elderly lady in a wheelchair, crying with her eyes tightly shut. I am deeply disturbed and could see that the other patients are uncomfortable too. This incident reminds me of an old cleaning lady in our condo whose eyes glistened as she told me how lonely she felt as her children and grandchildren lived far away. There is another instance of a man in our neighborhood who is dreadfully scared of dogs but has to walk his daughter’s dog, as she is too busy to do so. As I walk away from the hospital, I see an elderly man staring into space.
The old lady sits in the corner of a park bench, overlooking her nursing home. She laughs if spoken to, her toothless smile as pure as that of a baby, a testimony to her lost memories.
She does not remember her husband with whom she shared 40 years of pain nor does she remember her children to whom she gave 30 years of her health. She fails to recall her father who was never there. She has a fleeting memory of a young woman who birthed her, fed and sang to her, cried and laughed with her and has now become a picture in her ancient house, never growing old.
The old lady sobs softly disturbed by vague thoughts of her mother, alarming her caregivers. Then she is back to senile laughing self as those around her sigh in relief.