Her once strong hands couldn’t hurt a fly now. The legs she’d used to walk up and down numerous hills could barely hold her weight for 30 minutes. At 5”2 she had always been short, but she seemed to be growing shorter every single day. Her voluptuous African figure that had been the envy of many back in the day had now withered away leaving her thin and frail. Her once soft and supple skin was now wrinkled and darker than ever. She looked really old. And indeed she was! At the age of 97, this lady never let anything tie her down. “C’mon grandma, I think you should take it slow”, her grandkids told her. Still she kept on dancing.
It was a family get-together and she had just come from the hospital for the umpteenth time due to one of her many old people problems. Her body, weak and fragile, threatened to restrain her to a wheelchair but her heart… Oh her wonderful heart felt younger than she really was. Her cardiac muscles were not as efficient as before but her spirit soared higher than an eagle. Her eyes, once large and bright, had a distant look to them that made her look lost. Their piercing intensity gone, they looked foggy and clouded. Though right now as she swayed to the rhythm, there was a bizarre glimmer in her eyes. Snapping her fingers and clapping her hands interchangeably she moved like she was 20 years younger. She was the only one dancing in a backyard full of people, her children and grandchildren. “Don’t tell me to slow down. You stand up and dance!!”
They looked at her as if she was crazy. Her eldest daughter started consulting her siblings about admitting their mother to a home for the elderly. They knew she wouldn’t agree with them but still the thought didn’t…in fact wouldn’t leave their minds. Her grandchildren dreaded growing old. “I don’t want to get to an age where I hallucinate like that”. The older ones even made a joke. “I want whatever grandma is high on”, and they all laughed while their parents threw them the look.
See to them, there was no music. No radio turned on, no CD in the home theater and no speaker blaring at full volume. Actually apart from the noise from her movements, it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. But to her, there was a beautiful melody in the air. From the birds, the wind in the trees and the water rushing downstream in a nearby river. To her it was so real and uplifting it was almost palpable. She looked around at everyone and the concerned looks on their faces finally disheartened her and she sat down at the very back corner.
“To think I’m the one who is old here, mpft!!”. As she observed the young people in her compound, she couldn’t help but feel nostalgic. Her mind drifted off to way back when she was young and at her prime. Soni, as everyone had called her back then, had been the belle of her village. Every man wanted her and every lady wanted to be her. Coming from a well off and respected family, life had been pretty easy for her. She remembered attending the village dances at the village square around the fire. She was light on her feet and her hour-glass figure made her every move gracious and enticing at the same time. She had made everyone else stop to watch her dance on countless occasions. Every day in their compound was a line of men, young and old alike, asking for her hand in marriage. But she had only loved one. A handsome and strong man whose only flaw was being poor, at least that is what her parents had said. They had refused to let him marry her even after he gave up his only bull as dowry.
So one late night they took his bull and the little they had and eloped. They worked hard to make it in life and they might not have been very rich, but looking at her children right now, she knew they had succeeded. Her husband now deceased for five years had left her lonely and when she danced, she remembered how her had swept her off her feet with his remarkable and intriguing dance moves. Only he didn’t dance at the village square but near the river, where the wind in the trees and the birds were his source of music. How she wished she could relive it all again. She would not have had it any other way….