Sara walked past the rusted iron gate with trepidation. As soon as she stepped foot on the vast grounds flanking the decaying building, the majestic colonial structure loomed in front of her like a frayed painting. So many stories of love, belongingness, and separation these mossed walls must have witnessed, she wondered. Sara entered the hallway and slowly made her way to the reception. ‘Sacred Heart Care Centre’ was written in bold on the register. She worked for a local NGO, and it was her first day as a volunteer in the town’s Old Age Home.
As she was waiting for her joining formalities to begin, she felt a light tap on the shoulder. She wheeled around—standing in front of her was a woman in her seventies, with the most gentle eyes she had ever seen. They were brimming with kindness and warmth.
“You’ve got a beautiful smile,” the frail voice said. Sara couldn’t help but feel an instant attachment to the lady. She looked perfectly healthy and happy, but there was an air of melancholy around her. The young volunteer got up to greet her, and was surprised when she got pulled into a tight hug. The woman smelled of withered jasmine and old age.
“You have beautiful hair, just like your eyes,” Sara said.
“You know, my husband is coming to pick me up. He loves my hair as well. We have been married for over 40 years, and yet he compliments me every day. I have also prepared his favourite custard. What a pleasant surprise it would be for him!” the old woman replied, almost in one breath.
Sara was brimming with joy. She didn’t expect to witness such love and commitment in a place like this.
Just then, one of the nurses arrived to take the woman for her medicines. After escorting her to the doctor’s chamber, she came back to collect some papers. Concerned, Sara asked her about the lady and her husband.
What she heard shook her to the core. The old woman was a patient of Alzheimer’s and had lost her husband in a fatal car crash three years ago. She was rescued from the spot and brought to this old age home, and ever since that day, she would dress up and wait for someone who would never return. But her heart never gave up. Her husband lived on in her memory, guiding her, and nudging her to carry on every day.
Indeed, Sara had never witnessed such love and commitment…anywhere.