No urban dweller’s day is complete without incessant blaring of horns and watching time stand still while waiting for the traffic signal to turn green. Such moments of solitude are spent cursing at the driver who cut across, checking Facebook or just zoning out from work. We are usually so self-absorbed in our own thoughts that we seldom pay attention to our surroundings. But what happens when we do?
Last week, while driving back from work I was waiting at a traffic signal. A hawker came by selling guavas. A taxi driver in front of me bought some fruits. Then he stretched out his hands and offered a fruit to an old lady sitting in a lorry adjacent to the taxi. She was probably a construction labourer headed back to her makeshift tent after a day’s gruelling labour. She took the fruit, no questions asked. Just a few creased lines on her wrinkled face. They did not speak a word and went in different ways once the signal turned green.
I was surprised by this random act of kindness/bonding two strangers shared. They were probably never going to meet or have the favour returned but what had prompted the driver to reach out to the lady. All I heard in their conversation was:
“I see you and I am with you right now”.
On the left, I saw a kid playing in the mud with unkempt hair and clothes as brown as the mud around him. His dad (I presume), who was in a trench digging the road, took a break from his job every moment to check up on his child. He would sometimes tease the kid, wink at him or just cast a cursory glance ensuring his son stuck to his muddy playpen. The kid in turn smiled at his father with all the 12 teeth he had. Love was definitely in the air and I could not but smile.
A lady walked amidst the labyrinth of vehicles with a man’s hand in town. He seemed blind from the glasses he wore and the walking stick in his hand. The women sought alms by rattling the box in her hands that jingled from all the coins in it. She did not fake a sad face or utter monologues to utter sympathy. She moved from vehicle to another with a grit that she needed to earn money to feed her husband that night.
It is easy for a person like me who has always had a roof over the head and food on the table, that people should not beg but instead work for a living. But I have no idea about her life, her situation, why an able-bodied woman not leaves her blind husband behind and seek a better life for herself.
The moment we step out of our tiny little shoes and step into the tiny little shoes of another person, a lot of things suddenly make sense. Their anger, frustration, joy, sadness and the complete medley of emotions perceivable by every human being on earth. This TED talk by Sam Richards sums up this very beautifully.
While nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer,nothing is more difficult than to understand him.
The signal turned green and the bus next to me is spewing venom in my eyes and lungs, the vehicles behind me start honking and so I leave. Beauty is in the little things. There are always such beautiful acts of love all around us, it is up to us to experience them.