Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Old Woman From Across the Way

I call her 소주 할머니, because she operated a 소주 방 directly across from our home on the side street.  Grandmother has a perpetual bow that so many women of her generation have; a bow not from being courteous, but from years of toil squatting, stooping, bending, and sitting that forever prevents any chance of standing physically upright.  However, sitting on a floor looks perfectly natural.

Some of the inebriated patrons caused some problems over time, which required police intervention now and again.  Some posed direct threats against my family at times as we merely entered or exited our family property, or as we worked in our then open flower garden.

A few weeks ago I noticed the weekends were quiet in our neighborhood.  I didn't see wives dragging their husbands out of the place from across the street, nor did I hear the usual arguments and fighting so prevalent during the weekends.  It was quiet and peaceful.

My wife happened to chat with the grandmother several days ago, and she learned that grandmother had to close down her business.  One of her regulars took offense at her asking the man to pay his tab, and he thought it a good idea to pay her physically.  Her injuries required surgery to repair.  The regular was arrested at the time of the incident; I call him the "final customer."  Grandmother is no longer capable of running a business and requires help from relatives.  She has vacated the property.

Grandmother was doing the best she could with what she had.  I asked my wife to see if grandmother needed help with meals or a chore or two, which surprised my wife.  One day I will have my "final customer" -- I hope it's an amicable occurrence.  Violence...too much violence.

© Mark Eaton

Though used in the past by patrons to sit outside on a summer night, this chair will remain empty, because it was dumped on a trash heap.  The symbolism is stark, if not sad.

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