Mind The Gap

There are certain things which pass by us almost everyday,But only under some circumstances do they become relevant to us,they seem to stick out and shout for our attention. Realization dawns upon us and we start to relate more closely to the situations,to the people concerned.

One such day came in my life as well.I normally am connected to destitute,I can feel their pain,and agony but I do not remember any such lasting impression of them.If I spot someone poor and they ask for alms,I pay heed to that.That is the extent of solidarity shown by me.I never really carry their thoughts with me.

But two such incidents changed my life’s course.

One day while returning home,I was walking past a tea shop. A scantily dressed woman,must be in the mid 40s (but looked much older than that),was searching the bin with some grave urgency.It caught my eye and so did many others’ who looked at her suggestively.I slowed down my pace as I saw her on the brink of breaking down,her face had suddenly become writ with pain and gloom; it looked like she had lost her last straw of hope.

My train of thoughts were derailed by a sudden thud as a cup along with a teabag fell to the ground.Within seconds I found the woman leaping with childlike joy and approaching towards the discarded cup.I had thought she was one of those who collect all the garbage and sell it elsewhere.I was not prepared for what happened next.The woman tried squeezing the tea bag hard,as if to make sure that every drop of liquid is drained out of it,and she started drinking it.

My jaw dropped,extremely overpowering emotions took over me and I felt a violent push within me. After a moment of haze,I went forward and asked her not to drink that tea.She looked up at me bewildered,the grip on that cup strengthening,as if she was afraid I had come to rob her off her acquired possession. For a brief few minutes,I saw flashes of anger in her eyes,but that swiftly got replaced with a sadness so severe it wrenched my heart. I went ahead and told her to throw that cup away as I will be buying her tea.She was bemused,it was hard to believe for her that someone was offering her food.I bought her a cup of tea and few biscuits.She ate as if she was being treated on a five course meal at an expensive hotel.

I lingered there for a moment,watching her enjoy her evening meal,perhaps her only meal.I gave her a Rs.50 note and embarked on my journey back home.All the while I kept thinking about her.How a myriad of emotions played hide and seek on her face,how hunger can drive a person to the heights of desperation.I couldn’t sleep the whole night,the incident kept on playing on my mind.There was a small consolation that I could bring some cheer on her face,but then I thought what good did it do to her?Except for momentary happiness and my own satisfaction,it was but of little help.Tomorrow she would again be searching some bin for some discarded cups,would again be looking forward to the mercy of some human being,who would throw away food because it wasn’t palatable enough. She would be back to where she belonged.

And where exactly did she belong to?Why is our social structure such that some are born in the lavishness of cozy homes,travelling in a fleet of cars,feeding on ample amount of food which is almost always wasted; while some struggle hard to find the basic amenities of life?I have seen people sleeping on pavements,with nothing but a plastic cover in the frightening cold;while we bargain for room heaters.And I saw that day to what extent someone could go to hunt for food.Why is it that two people representing each of this sect can’t walk together,why is there an invisible “Mind the gap” signboard?Why are some of us more privileged than the rest?

Sometime back I saw another man at a wedding reception. He had to dress up like Hercules and carry a huge round ball on his shoulder and stay positioned at a place for the entire evening. Thats his way of livelihood. Why are some of us more priviledged to get good jobs than others?Why shouldnt the right to education be made equal for all?Why cant it be seen as a basic amenity for life? And who are those people who seek amusement in torturing others?What are their children learning?

Its all of our duties,i guess..not to justraise questions but to know how to answer them. Maybe,Someday I will.


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