Monday, February 20, 2012
Sara from Sicily
The bluest of blue skies can only be found in Tuscany. It was my second day in Florence. The free walking tour organized by my hotel was brilliant and the city impressed me, purely for it's capacity to make the best mascarpone ice cream :) I decided to rest my feet and enjoy my two scoops of divinity in the courtyard of the Medici palace. There was a slight drizzle but that didn't stop the hordes of tourists and artists from going about their business. I took out my beloved travel companion, my tattered journal and decided to note down all the exciting stories our guide had just told us about beautiful Firenze. I was busy writing in my journal when I noticed someone peering into my work. A woman was sitting right next to me, I didn't know for how long, she seemed to be crying and I didn't know for how long either. I thought she was in her late 70s and she could look pretty if she didn't frown so much. I smiled and she immediately began speaking to me in Italian. I was unable to reply and thankfully she knew French and voilà the start of an interesting conversation. She was Sara from Sicily and she asked me in a bold casual manner what I was writing about. I told her I was chronicling my entire trip across Europe and this surprised her. She asked me if I was afraid travelling alone. I told her life was too short to be afraid. We block our dreams when we allow fear to grow stronger than our convictions. For the first time in my life I actually believed what I was saying. Travelling had dispersed so many of my fears.
Sara told me she was fifty years old and she had never left Italy in her life. In fact this was the first time she stepped out of Sicily to discover Firenze and that too because her friends had forced her. I couldn't understand why she looked so haggard and old for her age. I asked her why she was sobbing and this provoked an even bigger melt-down and I realized I need to shut up sometimes and just listen. She explained her heart has been broken over four years ago by her fiancée who left her for the cleaning lady! She met her ex-fiancée when she was twenty and they remained engaged for nearly 30 years! Yet it was so easy for him to betray her and throw it all away. In her words "une roumaine a séduit mon chéri"... I could relate to her story perfectly especially after the tumultuous (now considered as rubbish) relationship my ex had just ended with me. To comfort our two aching hearts, I took again to my journal and this time to read aloud some of the proverbs I had jotted down at various junctures in my life. Sara seemed to like the one which read "better to travel alone than with a bad companion". She asked me if travelling really liberates the self and makes one happy. I told she will have to find the answer herself. Here Sara smiled. We sat there for a long time talking about her life in Sicily, joking about her being a mafiosi, her broken heart, her impressions about India, maybe visiting someday..
She asked me what advice I had for her before we parted ways. This was amusing since there was a quarter-century age difference between the two of us! All I told her is that life is too short to dwell on the past, all we have is NOW! We need to be present in every moment. I spoke to her as if she were my child. I remember saying go, live, rejoice and just be happy! Sara smiled, put on her lovely read coat, kissed me on my forehead and she was gone.
I wonder if she took my advice seriously. I like to think she did :)
Travelling, according to me is a reward and the meetings with different people along the way, are more than just plain encounters. These are cultural and personal achievements. So go ahead and reward yourself today with the help of Expedia! Wander away...