Where to Go?

clark park

Back when I worked for big industry, Hughes Aircraft Company, to be exact, I used stop at Craig Park in Fullerton, CA on my way to work to do my reading, writing and  sometimes-meditation.   Craig Park is one of the beautiful and expansive parks in the Orange County Regional Park system, this one built into a hilly piece of land near the 57 Freeway.  Every morning, a small brown woman in a traditional saree would walk slowly by, stopping to say, Good morning, Sir.   She shuffled more than walked and up close I’d have guessed she was in her eighties but she still navigated the three mile perimeter of the park everyday.   After a while, we began to talk, her about her family here in California or her life in India before moving here to live with her son, I about what I did sitting in my car by the lake every morning and what I did for a living.   Her name was Hasna, and we became friends, even though she always approached my car as if she were afraid to interrupt and never stopped calling me Sir.   She told me that it was hard living with her son because her daughter-in-law didn’t like her, which was why she walked so much.   Still, most times when I asked, How are you doing? she would simply respond, Oh, I’m alright for a woman my age in an Indian accent so heavy that I sometimes had to ask her to repeat herself several times.

On one particular morning, though, she answered, Oh, I’m not doing so well, Sir.   Concerned, I inquired as to what was wrong.   Oh, I’m having a problem with Where to Go, she said.   With what?  I said.  Where to Go, she replied again.  It embarrassed me that I couldn’t understand her since she was trying so hard to be clear.   I’m sorry, I still don’t know what you’re saying, I said.  With just a hint of frustration, she tried again, Where to Go.  Where to Go.  Then, seeing no light of understanding in my eyes, she added, You know.  Everything spinning around.   Ah, yes.  Vertigo.   Somewhere during the time we were friends, she took a trip back to India and when she returned, she gave me a carved wooden elephant.   I was very touched.   I think I made her life a little better by giving her someone to talk to … she did the same for mine by taking the time to share her story with me. 

elephantI bring this up because in going through some of the still unopened boxes from our move to Utah over a year ago, I found the elephant wrapped carefully in newspaper.  It is now back on my desk where it belongs.   Isn’t it interesting how a person can pass gently through your life, hardly making a ripple, but create a memory that never fades.  Or a funny story that makes you smile every time you tell it.   Yes, I’m smiling, Hasna.

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