Lovely people, meet Connie Hereford - warmth in the chills of Ooty, literally. This is an experience I mean to share with the world to show that wonderful people just happen to you. A big bunch of us friends, were on a weekend stay in Ooty. A couple of us early risers decided to take a morning walk downhill to get some fresh air and that's when we bumped into Connie - warmth in a bottle.
We were being nice and courteous when we saw her walk downhill. We said good morning and she did too. She immediately put her hand into her pocket and took out a bunch of toffees and handed it over to each one of us. For a minute, I felt like I met Santa Claus. We just got to talking and I asked her what she does for a living. She said she makes jams and pickles and sells them. I told her I will swing by her home and pick up a few bottles when I leave Ooty. We exchanged numbers and she gave me directions to her place. She then held all our hands and said a prayer and blessed us and left.
This is a 75 year old woman on a morning walk. Downhill. Happy, hale and healthy.
The day went by and when we were leaving my husband asked if I'd like to so some shopping and that's when I was reminded about Connie. We had almost made the turn to the exit road. I called her and with a little guidance from Connie, we reached her home.
Her home smelled of sugar. There was jam, cake and cookies in the air if you closed your eyes and took a whiff. She showed us to the box with the jams and I picked two bottles.padhu and I asked her where her family is and she said her husband passed away a long time back and her two sons were working far away. She had given them both an education by selling her jams and pickles.
We were stunned.
I quickly picked out six more bottles and placed them on the table. She them brought out a cake and said it was for me. I looked at her and asked her, 'Connie, but what if I hadn't come?!' She replied, 'oh I knew you were coming dear. Jesus told me so. And he said you like everything chocolate.'
Nobody could have pulled off that line on me. Nobody. My jaw dropped.
We paid for the jams and said goodbye. While we were about to leave she mentioned to be careful about a particular aggressive lorry driver who was attacking three young boys that morning. She mentioned she tried to stop them but he hit her so bad that she may have cracked a rib. For a calculative minute, Padhu and I didn't speak. Then we asked her if she has seen a doctor. She said she has and asked us to leave before he came.
A single woman who lives with a dog took to a lorry driver who was beating up three kids. What guts. What priorities.
We left and the car smelled of chocolate cake. The one that Jesus ordered. Until we reached Conoor and had the lemon tea, all we could talk about was 'What if, we hadn't thought of her?!' 'What if we had made the exit turn?!'
Till we reached home we talked about how she defended the three boys when she had no one at home to even take care of her for an emergency. With the happy scent of chocolate cake we reached home.
The jam was heaven in my mouth. Heaven on bread. Heaven on Varkey. And heaven till the last bit. I gave away a few bottles to some very appreciative friends.
Connie just happened to us that morning. She is warmth in her bottles of jam, in her hugs, in her touch, in her actions and in her speech.
I plan on keeping in touch with her through letters.