The next day I am running all over Manhattan doing errands. Picking up tailoring from the West Village; take-out (kati rolls) from Midtown; office supplies (I am actually a little addicted to neon post-its, highlighters and pens, glorious pens) from the Upper East Side. It is actually stunning how much stuff I seem to think I need, despite living in a small space. And while I don’t need 50+ pairs of shoes or pens in all the colors of the rainbow, these are things are my drugs of choice.
My last errand is to pick-up dry cleaning in the Heights, but first I will hop onto a cross-town bus and cruise back to the West Side for an Uptown B or C, so I can catch an Uptown A. The ride through Central Park is eventless. The bus stops at 86th Street and in my typical crazed, competitive New York fashion I dash off the bus, pass a little old lady, who is laden in packets, and scamper down the subway steps. Only to wait.
A few minutes pass and as the train barrels into the station, I see the little old lady slowly creep and creak down the stairs. She looks up to see the train and in her disappointed eyes I see her realizing that she won’t be able to move fast enough to catch this train.
In that instant she becomes Ma, this fuzzy Hindu concept that I don’t know if my mother taught me, or if it something I invented. And while parents are important, both mothers and fathers, a mother is a special life force; because we physically lived and thrived inside of her until the time we were born. Who knows, maybe this little old lady never had kids, but she was someone’s daughter, and in some way, she still seems like Ma to me.
When I hear the “bing-bong” of the train doors and before the conductor can say “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors” I shove my body between the closing doors and people standing around me groan. New Yorkers DO NOT AT ALL like it when ANYONE blocks the doors from closing.
I stick my hand out the train and motion the little old lady towards the train. She sees me, quickens her pace (as much as she can) and boards the train. In the mean time I have gotten some irritated looks from my fellow train riders.They can bite me, I don't care what they think. I will always be motivated by doing the right thing. And it is not until the little old lady huffs and puffs her way on to the train do my fellow passengers realize what I was doing and their body positions relax with forgiveness.
As the train doors shut, I miss my parents in way I have not since I first moved to New York.