Ann-Marie - Contents of life

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Ann-Marie

I am staying in a flat that belongs to an old 76 years old lady Ann Marie. You had a glimpse of her in one of my earlier posts (http://drkaustubhjoshi.blogspot.com/2010/01/cocktail-party.html). Its some time now that I know the lady. Someone had arranged for my accommodation before I arrived in Paris, so I didn’t know till I met her. I was standing outside my present apartment with my friend waiting for a lady who comes originally from Vietnam, can’t speak English really and is 76 years old. I was not sure how she will come, in a bus, taxi or somebody would drive her to the house. To my surprise a lady came driving a BMW a very old one in a style, parked it close to us , came out and asked in a French, Vietnami mixed English if we are the one who arrived from India. My friend, who is here in paris for last 4 years is aware of general etiquettes needed to be followed while initiating conversation with French people, took initiative and tried making conversation with the lady. The lady considered him as the one who has rented the apartment and took him by hand and started dragging towards the entrance. I was just a viewer seeing my friend in a bit funny situation and taking first lessons analyzing the lady and thinking about what all I would be experiencing in coming days. Very soon she realized it is me who has taken the apartment and my friend was released from her grip being replaced by me.
That was the beginning. I had to meet her many times in coming days for some or the other reason. I started knowing her more and more in spite of the fact that our conversations always lost the desired directions thanks to the mixture of three languages.
I found out that she has many such places which she gives on rent. It was her major source of income. In her house she had given three rooms to 3 Indian guys who work for Infosys nearby. That brought to my notice that in such a big house she is the only one from her family. Her mother died when she was 30 years old. She also lost her father very soon. I could not understand much of the details, but her arrival in Paris had some links with the Vietnam War. Her husband who was a professor of mathematics died many years back. She used to work as an assistant under one of the doctors in a hospital.These are bits of pieces of her history
I found her a very kind and generous lady. As normally is the case, she is a family oriented lady who likes to have lots of family members around her. She has two sons. Younger one is studying in a university and stays elsewhere. The elder one....., married a French girl and stays very close but still very far away from her. Once, while telling her family story, she said, “I don’t know why French girls want their husband to be just theirs. They don’t want to share them”. She tried hard but couldn’t avoid her eyes getting wet. May be that’s why she tries to find a family in people staying with her as tenants. I do not stay in her house, but those who stay in her house experience grandmother’s love. Even I experience the affection. She do interact professionally! but with a tint of love and affection. I personally feel she tries to give much more than what the tenant deserves. In return I guess she expects some moments shared. I try to do that and listen to whatever she is telling, even if it does not interest me at times. I share a cup of tea with her which has no sugar, at times close to no tea, no milk but just boiling water. At times I manage to drink 2 to 3 cup of such a tea just because she feels I liked and keep pouring it as soon as my cup is empty.
I realised she makes a bond with every person who comes in contact with her. I saw that 2 Indians who stayed hardly for few days at her home, while leaving, presented her a nice gift.
I see that she has grown old. She spills half of the orange juice on floor, a bit on me while pouring it in glass to offer me. I see that she can’t write the rent receipts ending up telling me what I should be fill in which section of the printed receipts, just signing in the end. I see her taking efforts in getting up from floor, because she has broken her bones many a times, in absence of anybody around, trying to tell her pains in funny manner as possible.
I had no plans to write this post. But after her yesterdays visit I made my mind. She revealed another chapter of old life when she was kid or young. She comes from family having six kids. I guess she is the eldest one. The poor condition made the family divide into 3 parts with 4 out of 6 in a group of 2 each had to take shelter at their relatives place. She being elder one had to behave as responsible one. She used to Jovial and showing enjoying all the fun and being happy while people are around. But use to weep once in the bed. Just imagine a 76 years old lady telling you the entire story with all the actions to convey her real feelings. I could read it because I saw her eyes getting wet and she tried to hide it making funny faces. The struggle was not over even in later years when she had to work in 3 shifts at different places allowing her to sleep for hardly 1 hr a day and that too in a bathroom. I can’t imagine how difficult her life must have been and which way will it be going in coming years. With growing age definitely her life is not going to be better, but a bit bitter.
This is our Ann-Marie.

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