Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Lessons in Humility

We were going somewhere, I forget where, to Brigade Road or some such place.
Stuck in traffic, I did my favourite thing--people watching.
Men and and women, grim, scowling, smiling, laughing, joking. Then I spotted a frail body stumbling through the traffic, hand outstretched, supplicating, beseeching. People kept smiling, staring, scowling, laughing...as if this less-than-human being didn't exist. They turned away so they wouldn't see.

But who am I to moralise? The minute I spotted that old woman, I felt a sinking in my heart. Oh no, I thought, another beggar. Another grimy hand thrust into the car, carrying God Knows What Infection. What if she accidentally touches my child? What if I touch her? I shrank inside, mentally cowering away from that image. Hoping she would disappear.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement in the autorickshaw parked beside our big, flashy, shiny car. Three little heads peering out. The auto driver's children. He reached into his pocket, took out three coins. Gave them to the children. When the old lady came by, they stuck out their hands. Clink, clink, clink. Three coins fell into the battered aluminium or steel vessel she carried.

The children sat back inside the auto. They smiled.
They who have so little did not grudge her a few coins.
Ashamed, I took out my wallet. Tried to appease my conscience.
Not that it helped, really.

Maybe next time I will not hesitate. Knowing I have more, I will give. And I will not judge. I will just help another human being.

(ends)