When I first saw her, I could not help laughing rudely because the purple hat looked ridiculous on her head. My friends and I would tease her behind her back and crack the most offensive jokes about her. Luckily, she never came to know about those awful jokes or my friends and I would have had a lot of explaining to do then.
However, as the months passed, I came to know her through our evening meetings. She was a surprisingly kind and sincere person. I felt sorry for talking behind her back. After several meetings with her, I found the courage to ask her why she always wore her hat. She told me that her grandmother had worn that very same hat thirty years ago. She wore it because it reminded her of her grandmother.
I was more than surprised by her answer because I realised what a treasure that hat must be to her. So she was not so strange a person after all since I too have some treasured things which I refuse to let go of, even when they look ridiculous and silly.
The first day we met he only explained that he had been watching me return from work every day and had wanted to talk to me. So today he had met me on my return journey. But, surprisingly, he didn't ask any questions. Instead, he began to talk of himself. He was a sailor and had traveled a great deal and I listened to his varied experiences.
After that we often met in the evenings and often had a cup of tea at the wayside restaurant. He was a man in his late fifties and though he looked grim with all his weather-worn scars, and was a huge hulk of a man, he was always gentle in his behavior towards me. As the days passed, I began to get used to his terrifying looks and feel comfortable in his company. He gradually unfolded his past to me. He had lost his parents at an early age and had grown up without any guidance. He became a deck-hand and soon graduated from one job to another. During one of his shore-visits he fell in love and got married. His wife had been a gentle woman and now he longed for a shore job; but with hardly any qualifications he found it difficult to get a job suited to his age and temperament. Years passed. Their little daughter was growing up into an intelligent teenager. And then tragedy struck ! On return from one of his trips, he learnt that their little shack had been burnt in a fire. His wife and daughter had both been caught in it. Since then he had been in this condition of grief. He had never gone back to sea and had roamed the streets like a mad man, mourning his loss. Many stories had been floated about him. His stern appearance in no way mitigated the effect of those stories.
Where did I come into his story? I looked very much like his daughter. So our friendship grew and one day I took him home. He followed me like a pet dog and I introduced hint to my mother. Ever since then he has been a constant visitor to our house and the agony in his looks is being replaced by a new warmth and affection.