Lalita & the Old Woman
Lalita lived with her husband Raghu in a small town. Her husband was a School Teacher who had an average salary. They made both ends meet with great difficulty. Lalita used to look at nice clothes, jewellery etc and wished she could buy them but she could never save any money for luxuries after paying rent and other bills of her household. Even though her life had no excitement as such, she believed in God and hoped for the best.
Life went on like this but Lalita never lost hope. One day her work done at home she went and sat near the park. After sometime she noticed an old woman begging for alms though dressed in nice expensive clothes. Surprised she went and asked the woman why she was begging as she didn’t look poor. The woman said – “I belong to a well to do family. We have a big house and in it we have all we need. The only problem is that whenever I sit down with my husband at the dinner table, my son’s wife makes such remarks that I can’t swallow any food. Everything is in her hands except my personal belongings.
We are given good food but the acid remarks made by my daughter-in-law do not help me at all. I have decided to beg and with the money collected, I will make my husband’s favourite meals. He is not keeping good health so can’t come with me.”
Lalita was shocked to hear the old woman’s tale of woe. She was thinking though that this lady has everything she still can’t eat what she wants. Her husband must have worked hard all his life to give a good life to his wife. Alas he cannot even make sure she eats well. So what is the use of all that wealth? I am much better off. At least I can eat what I want without any kind of tension.
Lalita asked the woman – “Where do you stay aunty? How far is it from here?” The woman replied – “My house is just across the park, I come to the park and whatever people give me I make food for my husband. I feel happy and can eat without fear of being constantly remarked about how much I eat. I distribute the leftovers to children on the streets. They love my food. My daughter-in-law or my son couldn’t care less whether we are present at the dinner table or not. The lavish dishes prepared by cooks at home are eaten by servants and their families. I make one or two dishes and we are satisfied with what we get.”
Lalita came home that day with an idea of how to increase the income of the house and gain satisfaction with life, both at the same time. She made extra food the next day and took it in a tiffin box to the park. The old lady came to her and asked – “What is in your tiffin box dear?” Lalita replied – “I have made dinner for you. You can buy it from me. I’ll cook whatever you like and bring it here everyday. This way you won’t have to cook at your age and I will be able to help my husband with some extra money.” “I think this is a brilliant idea Lalita. I will collect money from begging and buy food from you. This way I’ll be free to look after my sick husband. My son does not give me money to buy medicines or fruits etc. Ill save money by buying only one or two dishes from you and use the rest of my alms on necessary tablets and syrups”.
Lalita started her business and slowly more people gathered around her and bought delicious paranthas, veggies and tea-time snacks from her.
Slowly and steadily, Lalita had a stall at the park and hired a help lady. This lady did the cutting and cleaning while Lalita cooked the food. She needed someone to serve the dishes to customers and handle the cash. Looking at the old lady, she called her and said – “Aunty, I’ll give you lunch, dinner and some petty cash in return for help at my stall. This way you won’t have to beg. I feel awful watching you like this. I do the main cooking while Kamini here helps with cutting, cleaning etc. You can start selling and serving food to people and even handle the cash.” The old lady smiled – “What a good idea. I will be very happy to help.”
Very soon, Lalita’s business was in full swing. She started distributing free food on Sundays to the nearby old people’s home where there were elderly people living alone who had been pushed out of their homes by their own children. She now also gave weekly salary to the old woman who could buy fruits and medicines for her husband without having to beg anymore. Lalita came to love the old lady like her own mother and the twosome were very happy working together.
People coming to the park loved Lalita’s food and business increased day by day. It seemed at last, Lalita realized what real happiness was. She felt thankful to God for showing her how to live a full and useful life.
Contributed By: Amita loves to pen down her thoughts on various subjects. Her poems, children stories and Spiritual musings have been published online. She is a homemaker. firstname.lastname@example.org
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