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  • Writer's pictureAishwariyaa Ramakanthan

Just Faces

Just musing about the people I’ve seen again and again but never really known over the 30 years that I’ve been visiting Chennai. I’m talking about the “iron” couple who have ironed my clothes for 30 years, the milk lady who delivers milk to the neighborhood and whom I’ve “known” for as many years, the “coconut” lady, and the auto stand “boys” who are now married men and one or two, even grandfathers.

For some reason I never realized that they’ve grown old too. Like the “iron” lady of the “iron” couple who used to take at least 5 jaunts a day all over the neighborhood, collecting clothes in the morning and delivering them in the evening surprised me the other day when she hesitantly asked me if I could take my clothes to her because her legs weren’t the way they used to be. My regular auto “boy” who is now a married man with 2 kids, scared me a little when he nearly lost his leg because of the usual health issues that come with aging. And the ever smiling “coconut” lady filled me with a faint sense of melancholy when she shared her story of woe after all these years about a ne’er do well son who is a drunk and who still depends on her to support him and his family.

Smiles, some bright, some hesitant

Sometimes just a faint flicker of recognition in the eye

Sometimes a happy greeting

Sometimes just a glance at a face that’s familiar

The faces, once young, now lined with life

Stories never shared or even whispered telling in those lines, smiles, greetings, and glances

We know each other and yet we don’t

We’ve seen each other and yet we haven’t

Moved along in our paths with smiles full of hope and good cheer, or just sighs of acceptance, resignation

These meetings of ours

Mere moments in our journeys, yours and mine, will happen again and again

Till you or I fade away someday

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