Today morning while coming to my office in Lower Parel, Mumbai I saw an old women (probably around 80years) looking at red chillies kept on the road. She seemed to be in distress as she was unable to walk properly and so used a walker for the support. She was continuously staring at red chillies which were kept on a mat below her. At that moment I thought maybe she was a customer and wanted to buy those chillies and so I left the scene for my office.
Later in the afternoon, I went to have my lunch and to my shock I found the same lady standing there, this time she was tensed and hopeless. I looked at the chilles and it looked the same in quantity as morning. I immediately figured out that she was not a customer but the owner and was trying to sell those chillies. I felt bad and I went to that lady and asked her if she was the owner. Here is the conversation I had with her-
Me: Aunty , ye aapki shop hai ? (Aunty, Is this your shop?)
Aunty : Yes Beta, what do you want ? (She replied in English and I was bewildered by it)
Me : Aunty, I have been observing you since morning and you looked tensed . Please consider me your son and keep it with you for your lunch. (I offered her Rs 500)
Aunty (in tears) : No Beta, I can't keep it. My son is a CA and what if he knows that her mother is taking money from strangers.
Me : No Aunty, its fine. Even I am your son and I am offering it to my mother. You can take it. I din't like when I saw you working at this age. It is an age where you should rest and your son should take care of you. If he is a CA then why are you working??
Aunty (in tears) : No Beta, God bless you for what you are doing but I can't keep this. Please go from here. My son is a CA . My son is a CA . My son is a CA. She kept on repeating.!!!
At the end I was tired and I tried to keep the note on the floor and run away (as I wanted to help her badly) but she scolded me and told me to go away.
I came back to my office dejected but the scene was still haunting me. Unable to concentrate on my work, I went again to the Aunty but with a new strategy. This time the conversation was something like this-
Me: Aunty,If you can't accept my money at least sell me those chillies which you had in the morning or let me know if I can get you lunch??
Aunty: Beta , Sorry I don't have it now but I will prepare a special masala for you my child. Give me a week's time. See when my own children have forgotten me, god has sent another child for me (Again in tears).
She continued - My son is a CA but he is away from home most of the time, even now he is in Sikkim. My daughter is married in Mumbai only, but rarely comes home to see her mother. Recently she has bought a new Bunglow. So you see we are not poor. And I am a retired school teacher of "St teresa convent school" (no doubt why her English was so fluent).I can't keep a maid because it is not safe as I am an old lady and vulnerable to theft. My husband is dead as they killed him for his property (by this time she started crying loudly).
Me: Sorry to hear that Aunty, But please take good care of yourself and please let me know if I can help you in any way. I won't like if my mother has to work at this age. You should rest now.
Aunty: God bless you Beta. Stay happy and stay blessed .I will prepare masala for you.
Pondering over this incident I have many thoughts in my mind-->
We get so busy earning money that we forget to take care of our parents. Parents who gave us unconditional love, Parents who sacrificed their dreams for their children, Parents who did every possible thing to make our lives worth living.
Now the question is, "Is money worth sacrificing our relationships???"
If you have answer to it, Please let me know!!
For those who want to help Aunty— She sell chillies in Lower Parel, in front of fish market. I request you all to buy things from her and help her in one way or the other.
PS- I couldn't click her picture because I thought she would feel bad as she was one very educated woman.