Oh, Mrs Potts!
I plan on leaving straight away, but the sight of her sitting there all alone and silent make me pause.
I suppose I could stay a bit. It is rude to just leave, anyway, even if she says nothing either way.
I make my way over to her and after the briefest of pause, sit on the other end of the sofa.
I hope things won’t get too awkward.
I open my mouth to say something, then close it again.
Well, gee, maybe I should move closer? She is semi-blind and semi-deaf, after all.
I hesitate. I clear my throat. I look around her almost spartan living room. It is rather bare, but it feels warm, lived in. Aside from the set of furniture, there are a couple of wooden cabinets upon which are arranged several framed faded photographs of people I have never seen before. If I am any brave enough, I would have gotten up and look more closely, and maybe ask her about them. I’m still wary of being too forward though. I hope I have the chance to ask her in the future.
I look back at the little old lady, and cast around for inspiration.
Weeks waiting for the opportunity to talk to her, and now that I can, I don’t know how to begin.
I internally face-palm. Yeesh!
Then I straighten my spine, clear my throat again, and grab the bull by the horn. I hope the bull doesn’t run me through with ‘her’ sharp horns. I hope the bull is in a sharing mood.
“Erm, so… how are you doing, Mrs. Potts? Do you need me to help you with something else? I don’t mind. Or, we could just…err, talk?!” I practically shout.
“I mean, your home looks nice! It feels warm. I like it!” I manage to speak more calmly and try to project my sincerity.
Mrs. Potts looks in my general direction, her faded eyes blinking owlishly. It looks like she has a tiny smile on her face. I guess she is feeling the awkwardness and finds it – by ‘it’ I mean ‘me’ – a bit funny.
Ha! I think, maybe the dear old lady is not as obtuse or as blind as she seems! I think. And no, I am not thinking of her physical eyes. Those are literally at half-function.
I mean her wit, and it seems that she has spades of it.
Then old Mrs. Potts starts to talk. It is as if all this time she has been waiting for someone to just sit with her, and willing to listen.
And listen is what I do.
So I am just sitting there and letting her lead the conversation. The awkwardness – all on my part, apparently – gradually slips away.
She talks slowly and in drawn out sentences, but stringing her words with purpose and a graveness which sometimes make me loathe to interrupt.
She starts with asking about myself, which I gladly take as a chance to further my introduction, and hopefully get her to be comfortable with me. I tell her that I am far away from my family and that I really miss them, but that I have met some nice people in my life who make the distance bearable. I also mentioned a little bit about a few of our mutual neighbors, the information I can get away with without revealing too much.
Mrs. Potts seems to like listening to me talk about our neighbors. I hope she gets to know everyone soon, now that the door is opened, so to speak. I still feel mild ashamed that she has stayed here for so long, and none of her neighbors have caught on to her real situations. She should have had friends here years ago, before I came even! Not that I am any better.
Eventually, I ask her about herself.
Mrs. Potts is a born story-teller, and she has interesting stories to tell, it seems, of her life.
Before I know it, she has busted out the worn albums with the faded but well-preserved photographs in them, pointing here and there and recounting the stories which go with them.
Boy, was I ever wrong about there being no drama or interesting people living in my building. Mrs Potts is bursting-full of them!
When she pauses, I ask questions. She seems to expect them. At first it feels like I am taking advantage of her willingness to share when I ask her to talk more, but I see then that she revels in her story-telling. And truth be told, the writer in me also revels in the story and all the possible inspirations I can glean from it.
Sometime during her talk, my stomach growls. With a jolt, I realize that I never did get my food at the diner.
Reluctantly, I interrupt her, and cautiously explain my empty stomach. She gives a quiet chuckle. Embolden, I ask permission to get some food from her kitchen. Hopefully, she will have pity on me and not let me die of hunger. After all, she already told me some rather secretive things about her life, that makes us practically friends!
I dare hope as much, anyway. And yes I am aware that I move fast and expect more than I should from our very young ‘relationship’. Chalk it down to hope, as I say.
Graciously, Mrs. Potts lets me go prepare the food, which I do, for both of us. I make some plain sandwiches which I share with her while she continues her stories.
Briefly, during her talk, the thought crosses my mind that Mrs. Potts isn’t the only one whose story is told that day. In a way, so is a chapter of mine. Sometimes, our live-stories closely intertwine with others’. This happens when we have people in our lives which we let into our personal bubble.
I think Mrs. Potts and I am getting very personal, on basis of her life’s stories.
….continued in next part…
For previous chapters of Nysa’s Mirror, read here