She’s old but not frail. Her face is bejeweled by strings of laugh lines that took years to form. No, she doesn’t need an anti-ageing crème to smoothen those signs of hearty laughs that her beloved, with or without effort, help make. She sits there, in the same exact spot, every evening, smiling her contagious smile. If you happen to pass by, you’d by reflex mirror her genuine smile and close your eyes to consume the intoxicating fragrance of the mogra. She is the ‘flower-lady’. She sits at the corner of the sidewalk where the galli turns to give you a full view of the cramped main road.
5pm…She, seated on a backless stool, will constantly smile at the expressionless faces of the people, rushing by. I have never heard her call out to potential buyer. Her aura, like a magnet, pulls us, those who breadth in slow motion, long enough to notice her mere existence.
She can tell if I’m not well, just by my face. She enquires about my health, advises, tells me to take care and to my utter shock, doesn’t ask my mother to buy from her unlike her vendor counterparts.
She hails from South India and came to this city of dreams when she got married. She comes all the way from Borivali, to set up her rickety table with hand strung mogras. She says she used to live here before, and even after she shifted to Mira road she would come here every evening. Now she beams as she tells us she recently moved in with her son in Borivali. Her husband helps to dismantle and takes her home at 9pm.
Her face speaks of no adversity but of wisdom. Her gestures are elegant, her hair salt n pepper. She barely makes a dime selling small garlands to religious folks who offer them to G*d or for a deserving housewife’s long black platted hair. Still, she smiles.
Everyday for the past 10 years, I have watched her, envying her. I wonder if she has a secret portion made of flower nectar that keeps her genuinely smiling in this plastic world. She isn’t just happy… she’s content!