One Sunday, three years ago, after having what remains till date, the longest and most tensed Friday of my life, ever, I boarded the train, off to my abode. It was a 15 hour trip, traveling from up North all the way down South. Well, I was going to transit after 10 hours, what a relief!
It was my thesis defense two days before, the one I practically wrote within a month, eventually, I had great feedback and a good mark.
Summer time, it was warm, we journeyed through the mountains and through lone structures rotting silently in the country and through beautiful flowers blooming in the fields.
Beside me sat an Old Lady. We met at departure as she told me she had slipped in the bathroom and hurt her leg, of course I didn’t inquire.
The train moved very swiftly while slowing intermittently. You could easily get lost in thought, reminiscing – I about my just concluded thesis. My Old Lady friend had a smile on each time I stole a glimpse of her. Oh was she dainty.
Soon, Old Lady friend was struggling to get her bag down, I offered to help. She wanted to get her Scrabble game out… thence, we got talking.
She reiterated her incidence to me, she told me about her kind neighbor who was always there… She told me she was 88, the month she was born in (we happened to be birth month mates). She told me how she was the last surviving child of her parents at the time and how many off springs she had.
I smiled mostly throughout our conversation as I noticed she really just needed someone to listen, while she chatted, she played her scrabble solo.
Silently, I wondered why an Old Lady will get on such a long trip. As if she were listening to my thoughts, she answered that she was on her way to participate in the yearly Scrabble competition. How cool, so I thought!
“Would you like to play”, she asked me. I explained to her how bad I was at scrabble – the mobile version, and how I was not native to her language. From our little conversation she was sure I had enough vocabulary so I accepted the challenge.
She would start off forming a word then halfway she would give me clues by explaining the word in lay man term, then I would guess the word, mostly right, and she would clap her fragile hands for me. This went on for a while and it was so delightful.
She later explained to me how that trip was her first traveling alone, as she lost her husband with whom she used to pair up during the tournament, every year for many decades.
I sensed a bit of sorrow in her voice but very quickly, she put her smile on again, as though, she suddenly felt a gentle tap on her shoulder, one that could only be from the love of her life. She was in high spirits, again, literally.
Soon, she became tired and needed to rest. Luckily there were empty seats behind us, I helped pack her game and accompanied her to the seat behind. She laid down, breathing very softly, she took a nap.
I couldn’t stop wondering, why would she embark on such a journey when her husband, friend and playing partner was no more? Could it be to keep their routine alive? Or was she certain, he has never left her side.
The train came to a halt, hard to let go, we both headed to our different transit…