Many years ago, almost 30 to be precise (I know, these "in our time" posts are becoming more frequent; but at 60+, one frequently looks backward :-)....), the area where I have lived , was no so well developed, and we had to go to the next suburb for specialized errands. Like getting spectacles fixed.
I was the only one with specs then. My in-laws often came to stay , and one time, my m-in-law's reading glasses had a lens fall out and crack.
A general check on one of the suburban main roads, led us to an optician's shop. It was around Diwali time, we expected some kind of rush in the shop, or possible bare minimum staff (given the festival season). Instead , we were greeted by a young smart lady with short hair, and huge confidence. She greeted my m-in-law respectfully, checked out her glasses, had her sit and do the eye checking for ascertaining the actual prescribed power, had us wait for a while. Then she asked us where we lived. Turned out that it was on the way-home from work for her, she would get the lens fixed up, and drop it off in the evening. Of course, we were all terribly impressed because we had gone in expecting some guys to shake their heads and say "Cant say when we can give this; you see its Diwali and we don't have the full staff..." etc etc.
My mother-in-law actually patted the lady on her shoulders in approval . (Don't know what it is with that generation. My mother once did this to my dentist, because he fixed her denture(made elsewhere), to her satisfaction . But obviously, none of the young professionals minded that.)
Two days ago, in the rush of last minute Diwali stuff, I suddenly noticed a blurring vision in the right eye. We were in the thick of the pre Diwali street crowds in the neighboring suburb at noon, and for a minute all kinds of terrible things went through my mind. (We have recently had a medical scare in the family). I removed my specs to clean them, and found an entire lens missing on the right. It must have fallen off somewhere, and by now , crushed to smithereens under various rickshaws, buses, cars, not to mention rushing feet.
I rushed to the local optometrist . I've seen the shop many times, been in there for adjustments and stuff , as well as prescription glasses for other family folks. A doctor friend who treated me after a pothole fall 6 years ago (that resulted in a rib fracture) , walked with me, in the evening , to the shop. (She said she didn't like the idea of me falling again, since the potholes were even worse now, and no glasses meant I would probably misread the depth. ) .
I told the guy in the shop, my problem. He actually tested my eyes again, tallied the results with the existing injured glasses, confirmed that there was a change, and had me look for a new frame, since the old one was not reliable any more. He then assured me that he would try and deliver the glasses the next evening.
I asked about Diwali closures, and he said, they worked on all Diwali days; only Sundays were off. Throughout the year. Maybe their workshops would have a skeleton staff. But they were never totally shut.
I was totally pleased, and returned home, to spend 24 hours, squinting at everything and everyone. I even avoided walking around, because I couldn't recognize folks at a distance, and it had once happened, that folks smiled and waved and I didn't respond, because I couldn't recognize them. (That's how I found out i needed long distance glasses, in the first place).
Late yesterday evening, I landed up at the optometrist. With a book, in case I had to wait. The traffic is always bad, more so now, and their workshop was elsewhere in another suburb, and a delivery person would be coming from there.
There was a lady in the shop. Attending to a young girl with her mother, advising them about some lenses. The lady appeared to be my age. Or thereabouts. There was something familiar about her. I waited till the other customers left.
"Did you have a shop in XXXX earlier ? I think I have seen you there !" me.
She smiled. Completely delighted.
"Yes we did. But that was ages ago. We closed shop that shop many years ago. We now have 2 shops in this area. I attend to this one and my sister attends the other one. "
"I had come to the old shop with my saas. And you had fixed her reading glasses." Me.
"You know, its been so many years. I do remember. Because I never forget those who put an encouraging hand on my shoulder ! "
This was absolutely amazing. Both of us had changed. A lot. In many dimensions. But we both remembered. Thirty years down the line.
She would be working throughout Diwali. At her shop. I told her about my urgent need for the glasses. She understood. And told me not to worry. And to come back if there was any problem.
Someone who worked through Diwali. Except for Sundays.
The delivery boy turned up. My glasses were checked, okayed and given to me to try on. The clarity of vision lifted a weight of my mid. I would be able to drive again .
The potholes on the road were much more visible now.
I thanked them all in the shop, and wished them a very happy Diwali .
And left, to walk home.
And they stayed on, working, so that folks like me could have a tension free Diwali....
One more Diwali to remember. For the innate goodness of some folks.