Thursday, 26 May 2011

Last thursday...

We put the kids to sleep early and planned to watch a DVD together when the landline rings around 10pm. It was my neighbour from downstairs telling us that his kids, wife & her parents[who were visiting] were involved in an accident, could I please come downstairs and keep his mother company while he went to them.

My neighbour left immediately after I walked into his house and I smile comfortingly at his mother who was looking terribly worried. I lead her to the armchair and reassure her that everything is fine and they will all be back soon. She refused to be comforted and kept worrying loudly. Nothing I said made any difference coz she had convinced herself that the kids were injured.

I have known this old lady for the past 7-8 years ever since the family moved into the apartment downstairs. She is a petite, pretty looking woman who I thought always dressed very neatly for person her age[in her early 70’s]. I used to see her taking the kids out to play and we spoke casually whenever we met. According to her DIL[I’ll call her Sophie here] she was perfectly alright until she went and stayed 9 months with her elder son in London around 3 yrs back. She found it too cold there & so came back to stay with them in Dubai. Now it seemed like she was not the same anymore as she was always forgetting things and acting vague.

I was aware of some of her eccentricities and attributed it to the vagaries of old age. Even as I was thinking all this she stops her mumbling and asks me sharply where my kids were.

I was like “They’ve gone to sleep”.

She questions “Without having dinner???”

I was like “They had dinner and then went to sleep”.

She looked at me measuringly ‘You made rice and curry and stir-fry and everything’[her tone had the ‘I bet you just gave them bread and water’ ring to it]

I nodded my head briskly and echoed ‘Everything’[we had a takeaway actually, huh catch me cooking at the start of a weekend]

She changes track again ‘Ohhhh I hope they all are fine and the kids are not hurt’

And I replied positively ‘Don’t tense yourself unnecessarily, everything is fine, they’ll be back before you know it.’

I engaged her in conversation for sometime so that she didn’t get time to think but as soon as there was a gap in the conversation she jumped up ‘I’ll just go check if Meryl is ok’ she goes in the direction of the front door and I can see her murmuring something in a low voice there.

She comes back and says ‘Meryl is also worried you know. Where are they??? Why haven’t they come back yet???’ wringing her hands.

I was afraid to ask who Meryl was. Instead I focused on her question ‘Its been only 15 minutes since your son went to pick them, please sit down.”

I sensed that this was not going to be as easy as I thought “Come, sit down…we’ll watch some tv”

Who the heck is Meryl?????

I switch the tv on and sit back secretly relieved that I didn’t have to make conversation anymore.

‘Chee what is she wearing???’ she comments disapprovingly.

Oops some women on Zcafe were dressed in too little, I quickly changed the channel.


“Ohhhh my Francis punyaala*, what all they show on TV”

Heck now it was a couple in a compromising position on Star Movies.


No wonder Sophie kept saying she hardly watched any TV


Aaaaah good it was a cookery channel which had nothing discriminating; there were 2 male chefs fully clothed very seriously discussing some dish. She can’t find anything to complain here, can she? I think triumphantly.

“Cheee why is he staring at us like that, poda patti**” she bristles.

I turn and look at her incredulously. She was adjusting the nightdress modestly.
I turned back and looked at the men in the tv. Hmmm she had a point, one guy was looking directly at us and smiling flirtatiously, trying to seduce us I bet.


Finally found an animal channel and we watched 2 roly-poly bearcubs comically gamboling around.

Just to keep her occupied I kept talking and mentioned what one could do if one happened to be chased by a bear and had no way of escape; just tumble on to the floor and play dead. It is said that bears don’t attack what is already dead, just sniffs around for a while and goes away.

There was no response and I turn to look where she was…..she was back near the front door talking and gesturing. I followed her and realized there was nobody; she was facing a glass cabinet and talking to her reflection. I just found out who Meryl was.

Now I was beginning to get a little nervous.

I got back to the couch and stared blankly at the tv wondering what I got myself into. Then turned back to look for the old lady and found her right in front of me with a mean-looking knife in her hands and a hard expression on her face.

I jumped up in fright.

“Have something to eat” she holds out the knife and a single mango in front of me.

I hadn’t seen the mango at all.

Words were trapped in my throat and wouldn’t come out. I weakly pointed to my stomach and indicated it was full and watched her as she went to put the mango & the knife on the dining table.

As she went back to complain to Meryl that I refused to eat what she offered I scooted forward and hid the knife under the nearest laptop.

My hands & legs took awhile to stop shivering.

I had already called Sophie once earlier but she didn’t answer or return the call. But now I single-mindedly kept redialing, I really needed to talk to her. Most importantly she needed to soothe this parent’s fears and put her at ease. There was no telling how much pressure she could take. But Sophie didn’t pick the call nor did she call back……not for the next 2 hours anyway.

And so it went on every 5-10 minutes…

I’m sure the children are injured….

I hope my son has not had an accident….

Where are your children, who is there with them???

What did you make for dinner????

I’m going to the toilet, do you want to go????

Why are they taking so long to come????

Something is seriously wrong……” the old lady[OL] went on and on alternatively to Meryl and me.
I was beginning to fear that it was true…. ‘something was seriously wrong’, why else was Sophie not picking up my call??? Dear God I hope nobody was seriously injured.

All my excuses were beginning to sound very fake and the OL knew it. She now started giving me strange looks like as if I was responsible for the whole mess.

I changed channels in desperation and landed on a Malayalam News channel and knew I hit Gold. No Malayalee however senile they are or pretend to be can resist the News. There was blessed silence till the news program ended.

When she started off again I had a solid excuse ready.

I told her clearly & firmly that the vehicle they were traveling in was damaged badly and they were waiting for it to be repaired. Once it was repaired they’ll be back home.

“But why can’t they come back in my son’s car.” she argues logically.

“They can’t because all of them won’t be able to fit in 1 car, right??? Right???” I look directly into her eyes and will her to agree with me.

She nodded reluctantly; she knew there were holes in my story but couldn’t make out where. I repeated the story atleast 3 times and started believing it myself by the end of it.

I got up led the tired lady by her shoulders to the couch and told her to lie down.

She didn’t.

Well I didn’t think she would but it was worth a try.

Almost 3 hours were up and I was really worried now. The accident had to have been serious for them not to have contacted me by now. I didn’t have her husband’s number otherwise I would have contacted him. Just when I decided to call the better-half and tell him everything Sophie calls and profusely apologizes for not calling earlier. She explained that they were at the hospital in the XRay division where calls were not allowed. All of them had injuries; bruises, sprains and bleeding but no fractures or internal injuries, thank goodness. But just to be on the safe side all of them were being given a thorough checkup & that is why they were getting delayed.

I asked Sophie to calm the worried parent[who was now sitting opposite me and boring a hole into my skull, trying to see inside my head as I was talking inaudibly]. In-between I could also see her gesturing to Meryl to be patient; she was coming over as soon as she had some news. Sophie then spoke to the OL, reassured her everything was alright and told her to go to sleep as they were going to take some more time.

Finally she lay down on the couch and tiredly closed her eyes. Every once in a while she opened her eyes and & narrowed them at me very suspiciously.

I sat back and waited. The night was not yet over.

*St. Francis of Assisi

**the word ‘Poda Patti’ in Malayalam language actually means ‘Go away Dog’. But it can also be used to shoo off creeps, romeos, lotharios, characterless beings, irritating pests…..…you get the drift, right.


  1. OMG ! At some points it made me laugh but it was tough and you did really well. Hope they see a doctor for OL soon.

    and there was no mango ? Really ?

  2. LOL! That is a night, you won't forget in a hurry, Nancy! Meryl would have freaked me out :)

  3. ok, i am freaked out. you were very brave to sit through it.. so tell us, what happened after that?

  4. Bravo for sitting through all this. But I feel sympathetic towards the OL. They should get her checked up!!!

    But yes, I laughed too :D

  5. One of your few posts that I didnot laugh a bit, Nancy!! Poor,poor lady. She badly needs some counselling. But, people her age deny it outrightly when something related to psychological counselling/psychiatrit is spoken to...I doubt she has been through some kind of trauma? Maybe, of loneliness??

  6. Swaram: That u are but where is the rest of the comment;-/????

    Bluemist: Hey great to see u:-))!!!
    Looking back now I can't imagine how I missed the mango...she was holding the knife in 1 hand and the mango in the other;-D

    Smitha: Oh u shd have seen my face when I realised who Meryl was;-D....later on I found out tht Meryl is her oldest daughter who lives in India and she is always talking about going and seeing her:-).

    Iya: Oh I did get a bit worried but since we knew their family for sometime now I was patient...but just wanted the night to get over soon;-P

    Smita: Oh they've got the OL checked up and she's under medication.
    Having some fun at my expense huh;-D

    Dearest RS: Honestly when I look back at tht night now I feel like an idiot. Something abt the silence of the night tht makes everything so magnified doesnt it.
    Yes the old lady has a few problems but she is under medication & her family is very supportive. The thing is tht she misses her elder daughter a lot and has started having imaginary conversations with her. Oh yes they did take her to live with her daughter but after 2 days the glamour wore off and she came back to them:-).
    She is supposed to be ok most of the time[very forgetful tho] but I guess hearing about the accident made her go a bit muddled.
    I understand ur sentiments but this post was not making fun of the old lady it was actually written poking fun at me;-D.

  7. Very engaging write up, as usual..!! Loved the Meryl part!!! :D Kudos 2 u for being so helpful, patient and BRAVE!!!

  8. And like u suggested I've changed my comments section and now the pop up window comes! Anything to not miss ur comments!

  9. Thank U, I was helpful, patient and brave wasnt I;-D*nancy is nodding away very pleased with herself*

  10. Nancy,Nancy,Nanceee,I didnot mean to offend you even one bit. Neither did I read any of the comments...I commented what I felt the moment I read your post :) :)

  11. Err am bk :P
    Oh dear! So, Meryl is her daughter?
    I hope OL gets better soon! Some bits here scared me, and some of her comments on the TV channels made me laugh :P Sry!

    But u r one super-awesome cool woman Nance :D

    Err DVD plans - when next :P :P

  12. I can see how scared and anxious you must have been !! but you handled it great .
    and wrote it even better, giving your special touch of humour.
    I am sure the old lady needs some help.

  13. As always you do such a great job of writing of the events!! I'm glad that everyone was okay despite the crash- and I smiled about Meryl- I do hope "Meryl" tells the OL to get some help :)

    You handled everything with great finesse!

  14. In my imagination, the knife part seemed straight out of a thriller movie. Apart from that, I do feel sorry for the OL. Hope she gets better.
    And, kudos to you for giving her company through the night considering the state of her mind and not being able to get in touch with her family.

    Hmmm... The reaction to the TV channels were really funny though :-)))
    Overall, this was a really engaging post.

  15. Oh dear...what a night for u....hugs Nance....u need a lots now.

    Shit creepy that Meryl character....and that sudden knife moment -Oh dear, how did u manage ???

    I hope the family is all well now...

  16. good to see you back in your old form...

  17. Phew. A very different post. Wasn't sure were this was leading to - and even if it was fact or fiction. Very intriguing. You were really sweet to the lady - such are the trials and tribulations of old age.

    I presume there is a sequel to this coming. Hopefully all was well.

  18. I freaked out reading the post...:O U are a brave woman, even after finding out who Merly was, you could stay there with the OL till the end..when u talked about the mango part, i though its a story u are telling..scary..!!!..

  19. I freaked out reading the post...:O U are a brave woman, even after finding out who Merly was, you could stay there with the OL till the end..when u talked about the mango part, i though its a story u are telling..scary..!!!..

  20. RS: Nope u didnt offend me at all....I understood ur feelings perfectly and thts why I took the effort to explain:-).

    Swaram: Even I keep smiling whenever I remember what she said abt the men;-D
    Woaaaahhh super, awesome and cool and all in 1 sentence.....any minute I'm going to sprout wings and start floating around;-D.
    DVD plans....whenever u want;-D

    Dil Se: It sounds silly now but I did get a little rattled then esp when she stood with the knife. At the back of my mind I knew she was harmless[also a thought crept in that maybe Sophie didnt tell me the full extent of her mental state]; her strange behaviour coupled with being alone with her in the dead of the night.....made it all so eerie;-P.

    Anjuli: Thank U...honestly I took a lot of time to write this. Its easy for words to get miscontrued. As days past whenever I recalled the event I thought I over-reacted...she was just a harmless old lady really with a few quirks:-). And I wanted to laugh at my silly fears;-D

    Laila: Once I found out who Meryl was I guess I was expecting more dramatics...and when I saw the knife for a moment it all seemed to fit together;-D
    And thank U:-))!!!!
    p.s: Somebody reads my posts from Prague, is it U???

    UmaS: Yes the family is recovering; the kids will start school fr sunday. I managed better than I thought I would;-D

    Renu: Good to see u too:-)!!!!

    Ramesh: All facts....maybe a lil exaggerated;-P but all facts including the knife[I knw, sounds fantastic right;-D]. Nope no sequel, when I wrote the night was not over meant tht the family came back only another couple of hrs later;-D

    Deepti: Believe me I didnt feel very brave then....I kept thinking of evasive actions all the time...but yeah it never occurred to leave the OL & run:-)

  21. No, I am not in Prague...Though I wish I was:-)
    I am in the States.

  22. uh oh Nancy, must have been scary.. u know one of my ex-teammates was of this kind, i always found him speaking to himself and it was freaky.. i hope that lady finds proper medication..

  23. Buddy...your post read like a mystery novel (a VERY good one!). Gosh, I kept reading and hoping until the end that you were making this all up. Hope everybody is ok now.

  24. Interesting and freaky, but u did a good dead. And really nice to see you blogging again.

  25. loved the way you wrote!...long time ...will talk soon!

  26. Laila: Hehe I wish I was in Prague too or maybe venice or poland[yep there ppl coming fr there too & dont comment;-(]. Ok another did u come across my blog??? If u had a blog I wdn't have thought much about it but I notice u dont...yeah yeah I am those terribly curious types;-D

    Amusingveracity: ohoh youngsters talking to themselves is definitely disturbing. Once in a while is ok though dont u thk so, ummm...I used to do it;-D
    The lady is under medication but I guess medication doesnt stamp it out fully just sort of supresses the urges upto a certain level.

    Nilu: I didnt realise it was so interesting until all of u told me....I mean I just wrote it down and then I realised 'goodness so much happened';-o
    Mystery novel....hehe thank ye;-D

    Elizabeth: Good deed, yeah I suppose....what are neighbours all about otherwise.
    Good to see u too:-)!!!!

    Vinoo John: Thank U!!!Anytime:-))!!!

  27. oh god, i feel so bad for OL. ive a granny who ive seen wither away coz of old age. its sad...they become such poor images of their usual robust active self. i think i suffer from a bit of Gerontophobia....dont ever want to be that old that im so dependent.

  28. Creepy but funny!!!!

    You are a wonderful neighbour indeed. I hope the family is alright now!

  29. Limenlemons: Same here...I hope tht I go before I lose my mental or physical capabilities:-).

    Tan: Oh yes they are ok now:-)

  30. ven I am not sure how I came across your blog. I keep reading blogs randomly, and jump from one to another. However, I have been a regular reader of your blog for over two years now... Hope to read many more of your posts :-)))

  31. Right, I'm just glad u delurked even if its after 2 yrs;-D

    p.s: u thk I shd go on another break to get a few more to delurk;-o????

  32. good that you are feeling all better and the wonderful writing is once again in evidence. hope the old lady will live out her days in peace. it was good of you to humor her nance. you are a good neighbor.

  33. The old lady's family, luckily for her, is very supportive. I've no doubt her days will go by happy & peaceful:-).
    And thanks Lan;-D!!!!

  34. This was absolutely hilarious Nance! But towards the end I was beginning to get worried for you... :o/

  35. It would have been quite scary at night, alone with an old lady who acts weird and that too weilding a knife...
    More than the person or what happens, it is the background and surroundings that shape your reactions the most, isn't it?

  36. my my so finally when did ur ordeal end??? Its really difficult to manage such poeple.. poor sophie.

  37. OMG, that must have been one scary night for you, Nance! How brave of you to have sat through it though! Having said that you did generate a few laughs out of me with your description of the night and the mysterious Meryl :D

  38. Jane: Now when I look back & remember I find the whole episode sooo funny....the OL is harmless with a few quirks but like Bindu[below] says....the night, background, surrounding and dont forget the knife, made me all jittery;-P

    Bindu: U r BANG ON...honestly I cdn't have put it across better;-)). She brought across the knife innocently to cut the fruit, I cant imagine how I missed seeing the mango[just for a sec or 2] fears made me jump to conclusions. Wonder wht the family thought when they found the knife under the laptop the next morning....well it was the only other thing on the table;-D

    Diyadear: Part of the family finally turned up around 2.30am & then I went home:-).

    Deeps: After around 12am I really got jittery as the night didnt show any signs of ending;-o. Anyways all tht ends well and all tht;-P.

  39. Wow! I got exhausted just reading about it! What was the DVD you missed?It will always remind u of this day. Not that you will forget this anyday soon! I am glad the OL is getting treated. You are brave!

    Thanks for dropping in.


  40. it was the 100th post :) now lets cross our fingers and see who wins:)

  41. hahahaha.. the part of meryl really gave me creeps.. U r too brave to sit with the old lady for a whole three hours.. :o i wud have ran away when she came with the knife.. :P

    and francis punyaala... lol :))

    *note to self* Oh my francis punyaala sounds way too cooler than ente ammmmmeeee.. :D

  42. hahahaha.. the part of meryl really gave me creeps.. U r too brave to sit with the old lady for a whole three hours.. :o i wud have ran away when she came with the knife.. :P

    and francis punyaala... lol :))

    *note to self* Oh my francis punyaala sounds way too cooler than ente ammmmmeeee.. :D

  43. Hi,
    Have read some of your earlier posts before but never commented. You have a great style of writing. This post is straight out of some thriller series. Poor OL actually! But I did enjoy the way you described the events ;-)

  44. Wow, this is scary!!! But you did watch a movie actually, a live one...

    Hope everyone is ok after that night (incl. you) :P

  45. Juxtaposition: Hangover...the DVD was Hangover[the old one];-). And nope not a chance....eachtime I read this post it will all come back to me;-D

    An Open Book: Not just fingers, my toes too;-D

    Sunshine: My guess is tht she watched 'Pranchiettan' recently. Oh yes...wayyy cooler;-D

    Uma: Thanks....and glad u delurked:-))!!!!

    Rakesh: Hmmm...come to think of it I lived one didnt I...I mean not just watched, had meaty role in it;-D.
    Yepp...all ok now:-)!!!!

  46. Oh my God! this seems like quite a night for you!!!

  47. Oh it was, it was Raam Pyari;-D

  48. OMG--what a story! I am so so so glad you're back reflections! Big hug and welcome back! Missed you so! :)

  49. Very interesting! Imagine what must be happening to DIL!!


  50. we are awaiting your next post :)...and I'm glad you found me- sorry for not letting you know must be my 'old' brain- I thought, for sure, I had let you know ;) ha ha!

  51. my oh my! Waaata post... poor lady n poor you... you have been rly vry patient n brave to sit the nite out wid her... Kudos... n thank heavans that nothing hapnd to her fmly... that must have rly chilled down the OL for sure :)

    am dreadin 2nd childhood already... 35/45 is the age to go ;D (am spkin on my behalf)... cant b aroun for so long! :o

  52. Vivek Patwardhan: Hmmm...the whole family is worried abt her...what to do, old age brings with it its own set of problems.

    Anjuli: I'd even gone to ur old link a few times hoping u brot ur blog back fr hibernation...anyways am glad I found out atleast now:-).

    Sulo: 35-45 is too early to go;-o.....didnt u know u r just in ur prime when u reach ur 40's??? The 40's is the new 20's;-D

  53. leme better not say who i am... :P23 June 2011 at 20:55

    acha is that so chec??. but 49 sounds rly olllllllld... dont ask me about 50+... cant imagine that? :P

    @ all: no offence meant... just in case, any1 is getting pissed :P


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