Recently on a Saigon street, I met an incredible woman whom my friend simply called “grandmother” but of course she was no relation.
She was sitting on a non-descript street corner at 10pm selling nuts and assorted snacks. She was tiny, maybe only 30kg, and probably not much more than 120cm tall, although it was impossible to tell as she was stooped over almost double due to age. She was almost deaf and my friend guessed she was at least 90 years old. She was one of the most fragile looking human beings I have ever seen but what was incredible was that out of that amazing, weathered face shone two small eyes that still retained a sparkle, some life.
Through those eyes in that brief meeting I tried to imagine what this lady had lived through, what she must have seen, both good and bad, over so many years of her life. My friend had known grandmother for some time and there was obviously a connection and a warmth between the two that crossed the gap of all those years that separated them.
I tried to imagine her as a young woman like my friend and it was only later that i realised that the thing that the two of them had in common was that the grandmother must have had that spark, that glint in her eyes, as a young women, just as my friend has now. The fire of life i guess you would call it.
It was an unexpected privilege to encounter it still burning in such a frail, old body.