My aunt has diabetes
You see, that's the trouble with people you know slightly. Those you know well, you can sit and talk for hours. And those who are strangers, you can ignore completely. But those inbetween, the ones you sort-of know, as a passing acquaintance, they are the ones who are most difficult to handle. And I was stuck with one such on a train journey.
She was my aunt's neighbour and I had met her a couple of times before. Very very briefly. But no sooner had I settled down in my seat than she started wondering aloud where she knew me from. Once we had established our route to acquaintanceship, we then carried on talking about our mutual link. My aunt. After I had told her about my aunt's recent widowhood (at which she tutted duly) and her ongoing struggle with diabetes and weight (more tutting), there was little to do. So I asked her about her family and if she had any aunts that I may have lived next door to. Now there was even less to discuss. We fell into a merciful though somewhat awkward silence.
Later when she bought coffee from the vendor, she offered to buy me a cup. I said I didn't drink tea or coffee. And when I brought out my lunch packet, I offered to share it with her. It appeared she had already had her lunch. More silence ensued during which I wondered what to talk about next. I asked her if she had seen the latest blockbuster movie. It seems she didn't watch movies. She wondered if I listened to classical music. Only movie songs, I replied. After enquiring about interests in cricket and politics, I realised we had exhausted all possible topics of civil conversation. Religion was too personal and I didn't know her well enough to enquire if she had any illnesses she would like to discuss.
Our ordeal came to an end when the train reached its destination half-an-hour later. Finally, as we got off the train, I insisted that we stay in touch. I gave her my number and she duly took it down. My number had an extra '0' in it and she jotted it on piece of scrap paper.