I enrolled the kids for Vacation Bible School held at our church for 7 days in March. Since the transportation the church provided was over-crowded I decided to take the kids to church myself all those 7days. VBS was held for 3 ½ hours everyday which meant that I had to look for ways to keep myself occupied during that time.
Envisioning the long hours stretching endlessly in front of me, I had already picked up 2 books to read the previous weekend itself. So on the 1st day I dropped the kids off in the predefined area & went off to find myself a nook to sit comfortably & read my book.
But on my way to find that perfect niche I met an acquaintance who was also there to drop off her 8yr old daughter for these classes…she also had this fat book in her hand which she immediately closed as soon as she saw me.
This delicate looking & soft-spoken woman Reni was actually Manu’s friend. I had met her in church & at Manu’s house a couple of times but we never really spoke all that much. You see, even though I’m an extrovert & open with friends, I don’t really go out of my way to meet people & make conversation.
But here we were thrown together by circumstances & it didn’t really look nice if I just walked away to go sit in some corner & read a book….u know sort of openly saying that I prefer to read than talk to u. So I stayed on.
Since we didn’t know much about each other we cautiously waded thru general day to day stuff for a while. In the way of conversation I showed her my book [Still Me by Christopher Reeve] & asked her what she was reading. She showed me a medical journal & I was a bit taken aback.
Looking mildly surprised[I guess, she thought I knew] at my expression Reni told me she was a doctor who had taken a year’s sabbatical to be with her new-born, was now looking to rejoin work soon & so was just trying to update herself with the latest medical news.
I immediately felt mediocre whiling away my time reading about celebrity tragedies when I could have used the time to study rocket-science or nuclear effects of wars. The book which was flashed about with so much enthusiasm was quietly withdrawn & never came out again.
My curiosity was aroused & I started asking questions unobtrusively. Surprisingly[well, she always had come across as a bit reserved to me] she opened up freely & soon was telling me a lot about herself.
I always have been fascinated with People & their circumstances. Very often its happened that people think I’m their greatest friend & well-wisher simply because I am very interested in the going-on’s in their life & take the time to give a balanced view-point based on the things they tell me.
Well we spoke a lot…….in those 7 days we meandered through all the subjects touching our lives excluding only politics & rocket science. Reni spoke about her childhood, her medico days, her profession, about her husband & children.
When she told me about her 2nd child who was born after 3 miscarriages she had tears in her eyes & I clumsily put my hand on hers before turning away to hide the sheen in my own eyes.
Our conversations also included interludes of silence & moments when we went into the tranquil insides of the church to contemplate our relationship with God.
She made me feel inadequate without even trying…..I mean, here is a woman, a doctor who is managing home & on the other side continually updating herself [writing exams to qualify to work in Dubai], was working in a hospital in Sharjah[all that commuting] & inbetween all this had to bear the agony of losing her unborn babies & countless other barriers.
Made me sit up & ponder over many related/unrelated issues in life. Men or women didn’t necessarily have to be poor or under-qualified to experience the travails of life. Life is tough on everybody. How we overcome our deficiencies & circumstances is what sets us apart finally.
At the end of 7 days we very warmly waved each other good-bye & it was only a few days later I realized that we didn’t exchange numbers or contact information to keep in touch.
In hindsight now I realize it was one of those chance encounters where we meet somebody for a brief period & share without inhibitions our life-stories….
…….which, in turn made me pause for a while, to look into my own life, to appreciate & truly value my little world.