Lately, I’ve been fascinated by wrinkles. Lines on hands, necks, faces. Especially on faces. There’s something about them that makes me want to reach out and touch them. To feel age. I’ve noticed a few beginning to show on faces of youthful friends – the ones that laugh a lot. And I love it.
Wrinkles are so beautiful, is it odd to say I can’t wait to have my own?
My infatuation with creases in faces has led me to observe people more closely. Spending up to two hours a day commuting, I have ample time to look at people.
Yesterday, plugged into some beautiful piano pieces, I stole glances at an especially aged woman. Her face was a landscape of hard times. Ripples along her eyes, creasing in her forehead, and waves spreading from her not-smiling lips to her cheeks. I looked at her from time to time, green cotton sari falling unevenly.
I probably would have spent the entire ride watching her, her movements, her slow shifting gaze, had she not asked a question to no one in particular. It seems, she was uncertain that this particular tempo would take her to her destination. Half listening to the talk around me, mostly lost in my music, I heard those sitting around me question her.
“Ama, tapai kaha janu hudai cha?” they asked and she told them where she was headed. The buzz and conversation with many commuting contributors led me to lower the volume so I could listen.
This is what I gathered, as it was, the woman was on her way to another part of town to meet her nephew who would put her on a jeep heading somewhere where she’d have to get on another bus headed to her village, in Okhaldungha, far away from Kathmandu.
She wasn’t sure where her stop was. She was illiterate and did not have the number of anyone to call.
“Why are you here alone? Who dropped your off?” the woman seated to my right questioned, and the grandmother told all.
She’d come to Kathmandu to visit her only daughter, who used foul language and sent her on her way. The old woman, in telling her sorrow, cried. Her tears swam over and through wrinkles, changing the course of their direction until she used the palm of her hand to wipe them away.
Comments were shared by those in the 10-seater vehicle. Loose decisions were made. The tempo-driver, a rather young woman herself, said she’d help put her on the jeep. But everyone was certain the jeeps wouldn’t run until the next morning. “It’s okay Ama,” the driver said, “If need, you can stay with me tonight and I’ll put you on the jeep in the morning” and so no one needed to worry about the grandmother being left on the streets in the unkind city.
One by one, all the passengers got off, “Take good care of her hai?” they told the driver. A few walked off mumbling out loud, “What kind of daughter would do that?” Each going their own way, she left with these words of comfort, “Oosko paalo auuncha“. The daughter who now got rid of her mother, her turn would come.
Maybe I was the only one who wondered about the other side of the story. Could it be possible the daughter was not in the wrong? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Anyways, I too took my leave of the tempo and when paying my fare, I handed over a few extra notes to help cover additional costs.
Seeing the tears lose themselves in wrinkles broke my heart.
I hope she got home safe.