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Rated: E · Short Story · Emotional · #1537629
A story about an old lonely woman in a catastrophic situation
Forgive us, mama

That day was really crazy. A foreign delegation came for serious negotiations. Some problems with certification weren’t settled and foreign clients urged to resolve them. A technical job release plan was to be accomplished at once. It was just an everyday fuss.
The phone rang. It was my Mother calling:
- Sonny, buy some bread, we have none.
- All right, I will, - I answered and was again absorbed in my work.

When I was driving home in the evening I felt I’d forgotten to do something. I remembered at last that I had to buy bread. I stopped the car near a small bakery, came inside, bought bread and went out.
It happened in summer and the sun sat late. An elderly woman of small stature modestly and neatly dressed was standing near the shop. She wasn’t there when I entered the bakery. It seemed she wanted to speak to me but felt very embarrassed.

Her right hand surprised me most of all. It rose in a characteristic gesture of a beggar and then quickly dropped down. I felt she was very nervous.
I came up to her to ask what the matter was. She felt embarrassed and replied with her eyes full of tears:
- Excuse me for bothering you, but I badly need ten rubles ( 30 cents).

She didn’t look like professional beggars who collect much money in crowded places. Their voices are well trained, their gestures are resolute. The bakery was located in rather a quiet place. I felt ill at ease. I couldn’t understand what made an intelligent elderly woman beg in the street.
- What has happened to you? – I asked as gently as possible.
The woman took a small handkerchief out from the inner pocket of her jacket and replied:
- I’m all alone now. My husband died and my children went away. The trouble is I’m going blind. I don’t see practically anything. Doctors say I urgently need an operation on a crystalline lens. Then I’ll see again. I’m a pensioner and the operation will be free for me, but I can’t afford a crystalline lens. How shall I reach the bakery if I become blind? I’m so sorry to address you.

The woman wiped the tears from her eyes. I remembered that my mother had undergone the same operation and all the relatives were so glad it was successful. I realized how terrified a person might be thinking that he could become blind.
- How much money do you need to buy a crystalline lens?- I asked.
- Ten thousand rubles ( $300), - the woman sighed deeply.

I thought how long it would take her to collect the sum.
I took the money out from the wallet and gave it to her. She refused to take it.
- By no means! You shouldn’t give me so much! I’ll not take it! – she started to babble.
- Take it. It’s OK, I’ll earn more! – I persuaded her to accept the money.
She took it, pressed to her breast and burst out crying. And then she thanked me so much… I couldn’t bear it and just said:
- Forgive us, mama, that we have driven the country to such a state…
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