Rare good tidings

There I was standing at the zebra crossing debating whether I had enough time to dash across the road before the lights turned red. I am no P T Usha. Realising that discretion is the better part of valour, I stayed put. Just as well because the lights did turn red.

A cop, who happened to be stationed there, asked me why I hadn’t crossed over. Truthfully, I explained that it was cowardice. It was better to be safe than sorry. He reacted rather sharply to my confession. “Cowardice? No, madam, you exercised caution. I wish there were more pedestrians like you. There would be fewer accidents then.”

To say I was taken aback would be putting it mildly, in fact, an understatement. Compliments don’t come my way often (though criticism does). It was high praise indeed from a quarter that is better known for its aggressive tactics. The much-maligned police force shot up several notches in my estimation.

There is the woman who stops outside my gates and cries out “Soppu” every day. Her basket is full of tender, farm-fresh, healthy greens and the temptation to buy is irresistible. She is happy to sell me her stuff. If I am out of town, she misses me and welcomes me so warmly that I feel like going away again.

“It’s ages since I saw you. Is everything okay? How was Dasara ?” (or whichever festive season it happened to be) One day, after I had collected what I needed, I paid her and turned to go in. “Wait!” she called. “Take this.” She shoved a small bunch of aromatic coriander leaves into my hands. I looked at her questioningly.

“This is something extra for you,” she added. I couldn’t figure out why I was the recipient of this bonanza.

(Coriander leaves, during that time, was being sold at Rs 20 a bunch.) I shot her a puzzled look. “You never bargain with me.” I was absurdly pleased. Big retail shops and high-end outlets have a system of reward points for extravagant spending. But this generous gesture, from a small vendor, was really touching.

At a gathering, my doctor, quite casually mentioned that I was the best patient he’d ever had. You could have knocked me down with the proverbial feather when I heard it. He is an exacting person.

For long months, I had followed his instructions to the letter — for a skin problem on my foot. In all that time, never had I been commended for the pains I had taken. It was worth waiting 10 years for this rare honour!

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