Mrs. Sepleton was old. She had always been this old. It was hard to even imagine her in her young days. Her greys were an expanse of pure white serenity. Her pale, puckered and lifeless face was withered with lines and wrinkles. She hopped around in her stoop telling the beads of her rosary, murmuring something .
She never smiled. Not even once had her lips made an effort to smile. She had a grumpy expression all the time. "Grumpy Old Lady" we had nick-named her. Not because she said us anything, or because she hindered our play, but because it was a legacy to keep a distance with her. We friends did not really know why nobody talked to her or why was she so grumpy all the time. We just did what everyone else did in the neighborhood.
But I was curious. I wanted to know her. I had talked over this with my friends and they had shut me up immediately.
One said," She is a dangerous lady. She eats little kids' eyeballs. I heard once."
And the other remarked," My Mom told me that she practices black magic. If you go near her she will possess you."
And one of them just crossed the heights of bragging," I have heard my Mom-Dad talk, that she hypnotises people only by looking into their eyes. That is why no one looks into her eyes."
I could not believe it. But, the fear of being outcasted by my friends kept me from making a move.
We were playing the other day in the garden when suddenly the ball was hit so bad that we lost it. We all started searching for it. In my searching venture I stood outside the "Old Grumpy Lady's" gate. I spotted the ball.
It was lying in her little kitchen garden between tomatoes and peas. I looked right. I looked left. I peeped in. And then entered her house. I ran to pick the ball. My hand was finding it's way through the vines when my nose smelt of warm and tasty cookies. I turned to see Mrs. Sepleton stood before me with a huge cookie basket and her grumpy face. I got scared initially and nearly ran. But then she offered me some cookies. I smiled and took one. And the most unexpected thing happened. She smiled back.
"Old Grumpy Lady" and I became friends. She wasn't grumpy anymore, not to me atleast. She told me that her husband and children had moved abroad, leaving her all by herself. She had no one to talk to. She wanted to share her feelings sometimes but all the people in the neighborhood maintained their distance from her. She was lonely. I felt sorry for her. Now I could guess the reason of her grumpy look. Eventually I told all my friends about her and she became our best friend. She began smiling and being nice but she liked it when we called her ," Old Grumpy Lady".