In SearchI spend the morning, some of the afternoon and the evening sitting on my balcony watching the activities in the street below, which stretches from left to right between two facing rows of almost indistinguishable houses.

Today morning, as I turned my head from one end of the road to the other, I saw a woman come along the road at a tentative pace. Going past my house, she went up the street to its visible end and then disappeared from sight.

After a long time she was back. Just as she appeared at the corner where she had disappeared, she paused in front of a house and then went up to its door. She raised her hand, probably to press the doorbell. Soon someone I could not see opened the door. Some talks ensued, the door shut and the woman came back to the street. She dithered, walked a few steps, and then went up to another house. Again, she knocked, the door opened, and after a brief interaction with whoever opened the door, she retreated to the street. In this way, she came down, went past my house, ignoring it, and travelled further down the street. As she proceeded, the proximity between the houses she approached became less and less, until I lost her.

Quite a while later she was back, moving up the street, now probably trying the houses she had not tried before. I wondered how she would distinguish them. This question puzzled me as I realized I did not really know what she was up to doing. She did not appear to be a salesperson. She had a small grocery bag in her hand, which she had not had when she had gone past my house the first time. From her gait, I could feel she had become tired. The sun was up and hot. I felt pity for her without knowing the reason. I wanted to help but I could not. I cannot get up or move without assistance. Therefore, I spend the day in bed or on a wheelchair.

Finally, as she neared my house, I realized I was afraid she might ignore my house and pass it. I called my wife to go down and ask her if she needed help. My wife went down and came back. She said the woman wanted to know if we had a new tenant.

My wife said she had replied in the negative and yet asked the woman to wait. There she stood looking up at the balcony. I waved at her. As she came up the gate of the house, she really looked tired and lost. I asked her, shouting, what she was looking for.

She replied, “Actually, last night we have moved in here. I went out for some grocery and went a bit too far. On returning, I could not remember my house. I have been knocking at the houses, asking if they have a new tenant. Everyone has said – no, they do not.”

She paused and asked, “Is there any other way I can find my house?”

Indroneer / 30 November 2013