THE STORY REVEALED
“Oh, errr, good afternoon, Mrs. Potts. Umm, how are you today?” I stammer.
Good heavens, it pains me just to watch her try to climb up the steps to her floor.
Her progress, if you can call it that, is encumbered by the big grocery bag she is holding close to her side with her right arm, her ever-present huge handbag slung over her shoulder, while her left hand is gripping the rail tightly, pulling herself up each step slowly and laboriously. It is slow going.
I am just going down the stairs, on my way to the diner for a bite to eat, when I run into her, almost literally.
It seems that she has just returned from her usual morning trip, where ever that is, and has done a little shopping on her way back.
So I greet her. This is, after all, an opportunity, no time like the present.
Mrs. Potts doesn’t even look at me, or say anything to acknowledge that she hears me talking to her.
Ouch! What do I do? Do I pretend that I didn’t see her?
Months of thinking that she is a reclusive, unfriendly person almost make me balk at further trying to strike up a conversation with old Mrs. Potts. It will have been easy to think up an excuse not to, that I am in a hurry and she is busy, well, climbing the stairs.
But I have already made my personal resolve a few weeks ago to try to befriend her, and so befriend her I will. Besides, I pretty much have promised Su that I will.
Slight or not, I try again.
“Mrs. Potts? Do you need help with your bags, ma’am?”
Still no answer from her, just her putting one foot in front of the other up the steps. That looks so painful, and I am feeling rather embarrassed that I am just standing there not being able to help or to move on, not going to lie about it.
I mean, wow!! Maybe if I just stand still, wait here – it’s not like she’s acknowledging my existence – until she’s made her way up and disappeared from sight, then I can move on? But…
I was raised in a family where my siblings and I were taught to be respectful to anyone, no matter who they were. We were taught that when someone directly talked to you, you replied.
Our elders’ teachings remain thus, that it is disrespectful and a sign that one is not raised in a good household if one does not show respectability in one’s character. It has been stressed enough times, that one is to be respectable, and if possible to be respectful, of and towards all human beings.
Now me… I might have been cheeky and playful sometimes, fly-away in my actions other times, make bad judgments or prone to mistakes more than once, and lets not even start on the inevitable social mishaps, but I always make sure to be courteous towards others. I have my moments of real sobriety and graciousness, hopefully more often than not, and I’m not even bragging but stating my facts.
I also figure that old Mrs. Potts is being very disrespectful in not answering me. Surely she isn’t deaf! At the very least, she should have looked at me when I speak to her.
So I am a bit upset and offended – rightfully so or not – and I almost leave off on talking further to her, not caring if it takes her hours to get to her apartment a floor above.
Yes, I know. I just roll my eyes, too.
I can just hear my mom saying to me, “She’s old! Surely you aren’t upset over such a little thing. And to not help an old lady with her bags? I raised you better than this!” followed by a mile-long stare purely designed to make the unfortunate person (me) immediately repentant and falling all over themselves (again, me) to make things right.
So I cast a quick prayer above that I don’t make things worse with Mrs. Potts, but then throw caution to the wind, stand directly in her path, and take the grocery bag from her.
Maybe my parents’ teachings have a far-reach impact and go deeper than I think, and in subconsciously not wanting to disappoint my mom, I do what I do.
Maybe it is divine intervention, because the Good Lord knows I can use a nudging in the right direction! God knows also that I have many regrets at not doing any good deeds after the opportunities to do them have passed.
I am glad that I do what I do, as it turns out.
It doesn’t take much effort to take the bag from the elderly Mrs. Potts, since she is obviously preoccupied with making it up the stairs in one piece and baggage in hand, one laborious step at a time. I easily relieve her of her groceries bag.
But her reaction is totally unexpected.
No sooner have I taken the bag from her – which I do without a word of explanation by the way, figuring that words are wasted – then her head snaps up to look my way.
Her expression will have startled me on any good day. As it is, I am feeling somewhat miffed at her still, so when she looks in bewilderment, shock and a little fright my way, I myself am startled to say the least.
It is the bewilderment which cause me to pause and look at her closely. It almost seems like she is trying to see me. And the word which came out of her mouth confirm my suspicion.
Just one word, and with it came enlightenment.
Mrs. Potts is semi-blind.
I blink at her.
…continued in next part…
For previous chapters of Nysa’s Mirror, go here