Two Indian Country Women at 4 AM

4am

What does 4.00 AM remind you of? Sleep (just this for me, of course), mid night study, hostel nights, night shifts, a night before family occasions and whatnot. Medical reports say it is an odd time to be awake at, that can damage the proper hormonal secretion. My mom says that if I keep awake until late hours I will lose all of my hair!

Well, I certainly could easily count the number of 4.00 AM’s I would have seen in my life and I am very sure not even one of those were about studying hard or doing something very important.

One such not-so-important of my 4.00 AM’s took place two days ago. I was with my uncle and aunt, waiting with our car for our driver to arrive. Apparently, the driver had returned at odd hours the night before which was why he didn’t arrive at the expected time. The journey that was planned was a very long one that could cover 400 kilometers back and forth. We were going to the house warming of an apartment that my uncle had bought recently for which we got to be on time. Both the elders were impatiently ringing the driver’s number repeatedly while I lay half-awake on the window of the car.

I was constantly thinking of how I woke up at 3.00 AM in the morning which has almost never happened in my life. My only concern was that the driver should turn up soon so that I can regain the lost sleep. I was going on mentally calculating how I had slept for only 2 hours the night before and how I am going to do nothing but only sleep until we reach the destination. The road was nothing like you would expect as in cities. Mine being a small town, was peacefully slumbering at that time. No lights other than the streetlights, no noise of two wheelers, only countable people at sight, a few stray dogs trotting on the corner of the roads. Having nothing interesting to experience then, I went back to thinking how I had to lose my sleep. Since all the 10+ hours-sleep-a-day plans were executable only during semester holidays, I was telling myself how totally unlikely this situation is! By this time I had decided that I was going to compensate for this by sleeping the whole of next day!

In my faint view, fell something that was moving. As I focused, I was able to make out an old lady coming from the other side of the road. I couldn’t help but wonder what would a woman of her age (definitely beyond 60), was doing there at 4.00 AM. Her hair was undone, she was carrying a very old, disoriented mesh bag with her which for sure contained something to eat or drink. Above all, it was the way she was walking that prompted me to straighten up from my lazy position and to take a closer look. She didn’t walk normally, she had a penguin kind of walk where one side of her body struggled when she weighed the ground with the other side. She couldn’t walk more than 10 steps at one go. She had to pause for every 10 steps even if it was the middle of the road! What if she had to cross the road during heavy traffic? My aunt and I were wondering if she was leaving to work or to home from work!

The day went on and my lost sleep was considerably compensated for. We were returning back after a long day when at 9.00 PM we had to cross through the same spot to get home. To my utter shock my aunt pointed out to me the same old lady sitting on one side of the road with a shop that was laid on road, selling something that I couldn’t really notice as we passed by. If 9.00 PM was her working time, 4.00 AM would have been the time when she went home the previous day after work. My assessment might be wrong, she might have even unusually worked for longer hours the previous day and something that I might never think of. But when one Indian woman was sitting inside comfortably in a car planning to regain her lost sleep at 4.00 AM, another Indian woman was working until then and was making her miserable way home only to work another full day!

The whole thought process is not about people who struggle for a living or about people who complain about small things. It is about the various forms of life role each one plays in this world. Only when you broaden your view, will you come to know that there is just so much of what exists more than you have seen or experienced.

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