Over the past two years, I have observed her sitting in the same spot near a shrine. She is neither a minister nor a beggar. Her residence is an ancient chamber in the midst of an almost abandoned temple. I am discussing a woman in her late 80s. Once a wife and mother, she is now abandoned and forced to subsist alone.
I used to see her daily on my commute to work. Whether she was sitting quietly, gathering dried leaves, or preparing meals, she was constantly involved in some task. Seeing her plight made my emotions boil, yet I felt useless. I relocated to Chennai almost two years ago. After many interactions, she began to acknowledge me. When our eyes met, she smiled and I reciprocated with a smile.
The language barrier always prevented me from conversing with her, despite my occasional desire to do so in response to her glum attitude. My need to learn more about her remained.
One day, a celebration was held in a neighboring villa, and as I walked along the street in the evening, I noticed that she was clothed, unlike her normal simple drapery. I was pleased that she will be well-nourished today. The following day, I realized she had moved into the villa. It seemed odd that someone would allow a stranger to remain in their home. Curious, I called one of my neighbors and learned that the villa was hers, having been constructed by her late husband. Now, things began to gain perspective. After a fierce dispute with his wife, her son pushed her out of the house and moved in with his wife. After that, she began living in a temple.
This is when I learned that she was dressed for her grandson’s wedding and was permitted to stay in a little room adjacent to the water pump. I was pleased that she was remaining close to the family.
I did not see her again until one day later. Outside the villa, she was yelling and assaulting his son and daughter-in-law. She peered at me as I crossed the street, but I pretended not to notice and continued on my way. The following day, I saw her again at the temple, preparing food for her. She stared at me with sorrowful eyes, but I continued as before.
Today, I witnessed the lady’s inconsolable grief. Shouting and swearing in her own tongue. Having spent some time in Chennai, I was able to discern that she was blaming God by stating, “I am too old to still be on this world, and you have taken my son before me.” I took a quick peek inside the mansion and saw a corpse on the floor surrounded by people. The deceased was her son, who had left her to live a sad existence alone. Nonetheless, the mother mourned for her deceased son. What I observed today was a paradigm shift for me.
Someone remarked correctly, “Children can be either human or demonic, but moms are always the purest manifestation of God.”