Thursday, February 19, 2015

Chronicles of a Solitary Soul – A Twenty Rupee Note

The world is a beautiful place for sure, but it really makes me ponder as to why different people are blessed in different manner to strive and survive in this beautiful world. Why are there so many classes, so many privileges and so many differentiations that govern the lives of those who dwell in this beautiful world? There are some who have the luxury of residing in the lavish homes, while there are others who find their haven beneath the shadow of starry sky; there are some who are served with the choicest of the delicacies, while there are others who find their hunger sated from the leftovers; there are some who are adorned with the branded apparels of highest grade, while there are others who just manage to cover themselves with whatever they get. Some may refer it the outcome of past birth deeds, some may call it the culmination of karma philosophy and some might just shrug & move ahead saying there are indeed better things to look and ponder about.

While we as an individual are indeed blessed to have our current lifestyle which entitles us to a host of luxuries, there are millions who are even deprived of the basic necessities of life – food, clothing and shelter. And thinking about the plight and condition of those really makes me question the whole purpose of existence. I am an educated person, working in a good corporate, drawing out a descent salary and enjoying a lifestyle which only a fraction of the total people enjoys. But what difference am I making to the lives of those deprived and stripped off of even the basic amenities. When I am not even making a difference to one life around me, am I really justified for what I do and what I enjoy. And above all, at times when I choose to just shrug and move ahead, am I right in my approach? I don’t know, perhaps all of this might appear to be a bit philosophical and bookish but does that really overrule the point?

I remember once when I was in my car at the signal waiting for the lights to turn green, I saw a beggar approaching one of the cars standing ahead in the middle of the road, limping and walking with great difficulty with the help of crutches. He repeatedly pleaded for the alms knocking the car on either side and then suddenly the signal went green and all the cars started moving & honking which made him run and cross the road to be on the other side. I was actually surprised to see a handicapped person who was struggling to walk even with the crutches few minutes before actually running on his feet with crutches held in one hand in air.

More than just a surprise, it disturbed me to think that sight of that handicap person running on the street would in essence have made many people (I’m sure many would have watched him running) who witnessed it to become indifferent to the plight of those genuine souls who are in actual need of help and assistance.

Few days later I read in one of the articles that those ladies on the traffic signals holding baby in one hand and begging for help with the other, actually hire the babies for this purpose. The article even said that these ladies give some intoxication to the child so that he remains in a sleeping mode most of the time. First the incident and the article, the signs were indeed disturbing not only for the topic they dealt. But, more importantly, for these cast shadow on one’s mind for all the people seeking help and begging for the alms. It becomes indeed difficult to gaze as to which one is genuine and which is fabricated, to whom to believe and to whom not to.

These have even a greater impact on the souls like me as each time I confront these beggars there starts a tug of war ranging within me, with above incidents at one end compelling me to shrug off & move while my conscience at the other end persuading me to halt and help. And I don’t have even minor of the qualms in saying that it’s not always the later that prevails. But even in those cases where the former have a say and I simply move ahead, it becomes impossible for me to just shrug it off as the thing lingers on in my thought for long leaving me entangled in those web of ‘What Ifs’.

Source: Google Images
Just recently, I was standing at one of those traffic signals which house many of these beggars and serve as an important focal point for them to earn some assistance. As I eagerly waited to the light to turn green, constantly staring at that digital countdown which still showed 150 more seconds to go before the signal to change, an old woman came to car with balloons urging me to buy one, “Please buy one balloon, it’s just for five rupees”. When I refused, she requested again, “Please help me. I have not taken anything since morning. Please give me some money, I want to have some tea.” That was enough ingredients to start the game of tug within, as quite hesitatingly I rolled up the window and drove my car ahead a little.

She stood there for a while and then moved away when I didn’t yielded. Then some thought shook me from within (it seemed that the game of tug was shifting to other side) and I suddenly called her from behind and handed over a twenty rupee note to her saying, “Amma, don’t spend this on anything but to eat. I am giving this so that you can have a tea and eat something.” She said some blessing and left.

The signal turned green and as I drove ahead, a part of me stared at me questioningly asking for the explanation of all that just happened. When the lady asked for some help, the twenty rupee note sitting in my shirt pocket appeared too big to be given to a beggar and my mind stood by me and affirmed my stand. As I refused her and drove my car ahead a little, my heart kindled me, what if she is telling the truth and has not taken anything since morning. And then that twenty rupee note started appearing way too less in comparison of the life that stood outside.

I don’t know whether she was telling the truth or framing the lies to get that twenty rupee note from me. Whatever it is, my gesture comforted me in two ways – one it helped me staying away from those webs of ‘What Ifs’ and second it provided that ‘feel good’ feeling that felt good to the heart and when the heart feels good, everything ought to be right.

~Shubh Life . . . Om Sai Ram

© 2015 Manish Purohit (Reserved)

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