At first glance, I see her industriously sweeping the floor as she always has. I’ve seen her here several times, this being an auditorium I’ve used for performances several times. She is of indeterminate age. I’ve rarely seen her gloomy.
Today,though, I notice that Seethamma’s gait is awkward. She careens a bit to the left every time she steps back. I ask her why. The answer stuns me.
Seethamma has a misshapen foot, a fact I realize I must’ve always known. Three digits of her right foot are at right angles to the other two, a condition that has to be incredibly painful. I ask her if this is a condition she has suffered from birth. She replies that an alcoholic husband cut off these digits while she was asleep as she refused to allow him to “sell” her child to a so-called adoption agency. An indifferent doctor stitched these digits anyhow and the condition worsened over time.
Her smile is infectious. She tells me that it could be worse. There are people without limbs, with terrible diseases. She is lucky, she says. She gets to hear music everyday for free. It’s been healing her, she claims.
She advises me to smile more on stage. As she continues humming her way across the floorboards, I walk across to set up my instrument.