Monday, November 17, 2008

Lazeeza Chronicles II

Arthritis has bent her fingers. Her legs too. Her face is pale, almost translucent. The only splash of colour on it being a smear of lipstick, a scratch of blue pencil and a shaky line of indigo eye shadow. She is my Painted Lady. I miss her when she is not around. Wonder whether she’s passed on. How would I know if she did? I am no family of hers, though I feel a connection to this bent old lady.
She dropped by the other day…after ages. I held out my hand and helped her into the shop. Her skin has the softness of leather worn smooth to it. When she is my only customer for the moment, I can almost touch her loneliness. It appears like a mantle about her shoulders when she recalls her deceased husband and speaks of the love they shared, or when she tells me about her bird – an African Grey. Or when she buys meat pies for meals, saying that one seldom feels like cooking when there is no one to cook for.

She is one of many who remind me of all I have to be grateful for. Lazeeza is life. She gives with one hand and takes with the other. She is generous with her gifts. A compensation perhaps for often testing my endurance to the limits.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lazeeza Chronicles I

He walks in. A diminutive man. Dark as my computer keyboard. Thinning hair that was once long and stringy a lot shorter now. I spy a little bit of plastic peeking out from his shirt. We get to talking. Turns out that the deliberately displayed plastic is his central line for chemo. Turns out he has cancer. I try to make him feel cheered. Speak lightly about an illness that has carried so many away and hope that my optimism will seep into him, by osmosis, somehow. I tell him about a nephew who won. Hope is a precarious thing.

I remember all the times that he would come to my husband’s glass business for shelves and such that would be used in the low cost furniture that he manufactured. He was a man desperately convincing himself of the need for hope back then. His business was ailing. And now he is and the business has been annihilated by Chinese imports and labour disputes.

He came in again yesterday. An attempt at dandiness. Yellow shirt, black pants and a jaunty little black beret. The central line is hidden in his shirt this time. The shop is busy; we can’t chat. But I find that I don’t want to anyway. He scoops up his purchases. And makes his way out. I watch his retreating back. The blacks are faded. So is the yellow. He cuts a tragic figure. Sad. Fading into nothingness.

And I marvel at how fate sometimes brings us full circle.