The old lady at the university

I saw her again, the old lady in her seventies, who was sitting in the corner of a sofa outside the library. She was reading a newspaper, all her attention was paid to the front page it seemed, she didn’t turn the page. A half-empty lunch box was just beside her, she had already finished her coffee.

I walked towards her slowly so that I wouldn’t appear intrusive. She lifted her head, gently. No sense of surprise to be traced, our eyes met, I smiled to her, and she to me. I sat on the floor, looking up to her face. Her grey hair was done in a loose bun. She smiled again.

Her appearance at the campus is quite noticeable, she looks so different from what is expected to be seen at an university. She walks slowly, having her back bent forward to such an extent that her head always faces the ground. A flaw in her body prevents her from straightening her back.

On that dark snowy evening, I saw her standing on the platform of the university underground station. Her hair flying, the weight of the bags and the umbrella she was carrying made it hard for her to stand steadily. Her back bending forward, her head hanging, it all made her look fragile, as if she would easily get flown away. She was alone. When the tube approached the station, she lifted her head with her back still bending forward, and walked in slowly. She has a story to tell, hasn’t she?

I’ve seen you a few times, are you a student here? I asked her.

Oh yes she said she was, she is studying English, not for teaching purpose certainly. She is eager to improve her knowledge of English so that she would be able to read the articles on Internet. And there are a lot of interesting English publications out there.

She talked about politics, religion and the treatment of immigrants. She is a regular churchgoer. And she is curious and a good listener.

The quote “It is never too late to learn” isn’t unfamiliar with me, but I think I have acquired a deeper understanding of it, I can see it from her. Beneath the fragile appearance, she possesses a strong soul. Her enthusiasm and spirit is contagious, I look forward to our next accidental catch-up and a decent talk.

Thank you for reading, take care.

With love,

Isabelle ❤️

(Pictures taken at University of Oslo, Norway)

Author: Isabelle

Literature & language enthusiast 🇬🇧🇳🇴🇨🇳 Dedicated runner & passionate traveller 🏃‍♀️🏝 I am Isabelle and I live with my family in Oslo, Norway. I am a content writer/editor and language advisor.

28 thoughts on “The old lady at the university”

    1. Thank you for the kind words! I’d been thinking of talking to her since I saw her the first time but it wasn’t until last Thursday that I eventually did it. It was a nice and pleasant conversation. I like and respect older people, they always have some interesting stories to tell. A lot of wisdom in their words. A lot to learn from them. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  1. From the conversations you mentioned, it seems that this older student has learned a lot by committing herself to education, though late in life. Some posit that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, but I believe that one can learn at any time of his life, and the woman you met reflects this confidence. My mom once knew a woman who would just take a class per semester at a college nearby. Little by little, she worked to complete her degree, unhindered by her age. It all comes down to dedication. Stories like this remind me of the children’s book, Mr. George Baker, by Amy Hest. If you find the book, I encourage you to give it a look! It ties in well with this theme.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for taking time to let me know your reflections! Yes it’s not about age but dedication. Have checked out Mr. George Baker. A lovely book about the warm friendship between Mr. George Baker and the little boy, and Baker’s dedication to learn despite his old age. Will get one for my children and myself. Such a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing! 😊


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