The Strange Woman
How many times has it happened to you that a strange person would approach you and start making a conversation? I guess your answer would be ‘Never’. In a city where people are too scared and uncomfortable to breach their protective shell and start a tête-à-tête with a stranger for the fear of a backlash, this answer doesn’t surprise me. Let me narrate one recent and rare incident to you I was a part of.
It was around 8 in the evening. It was quite dark and the only light was of the traffic moving on the road. I was coming back from the gym. The shirt was covered in sweat and my hair was in a mess. There was this gaunt woman wearing a saree walking a few steps ahead of me. Her hair were very rough, starched, kind of Bob Marleyish and made a structure like a bee-hive around her head. I could just about hear her blabbering, not understand it though. She stopped for a second and asked a man ‘Bhai Sahab, Whats the time?’. The man replied. She couldn’t hear it and asked him again. 7:30 he said. She got it right the second time and continued walking.
By this time, I had already overtaken her by two steps. Now, her blabbering was clear, pretty loud she was.
“You should not be talking to strange men. Why do you talk to men you don’t even know. I was just asking the time. Bitch”
Now, I had somewhat realized that the woman was a freak, a little crazy in her head. She was talking shit to herself and that too very loudly. I started moving faster now.
“Bhai Sahab!! Bhai Sahab!!!” – She called out to someone. “Bhai Sahab.. Suno!!!”. I turned around to see it was me she was screaming to.
“Do you know till what time the Hanuman temple is open for devotees?”
I didn’t know which temple she was referring to, as there was none in that area. Now I was sure she lives in a different world than mine, a world inhabited by retards.
“I don’t know” – I tried to shrug her off but she was matching my speed pretty well.
“I have to buy a mango and offer it to the gods. Do you think the temple would be open till then?”
“I don’t know”
“You know today is Tuesday and I never miss going to the temple on this day. I came back from the office late today and thought of skipping but now I think I should not. Good mangoes are not easy to choose. I really don’t want to be going there and find the temple is closed.”
Just when I thought I was losing my cool, she saw a fruit shop on the roadside and went there. I sped up a few notches until I was sure she can not call me back.
“What pagal lady yaar. Sali she was talking to herself. Man, thank god I got rid of her too soon. She had plans to spoil my return walk back to home. I don’t understand how the people who know her tolerate this woman. Non stop blabber she was. And the way she looked, messed up hair, malnourished appearance. Trying to get too sticky. I should have straight away told her to go away. And if she hadn’t I should have screamed at her – LEAVE ME ALONE ”
Suddenly I saw people around me looking at me strangely. Oh… I was blabbering to myself. Loudly. I was that woman.