Friday, September 21, 2012

A lesson in humility

We were in the same bus, albeit a few feet apart. The word 'Striyansathi' (ladies only) had been painted in red font, Marathi on the metal by my side. My husband had found it safer to sit somewhere he couldn't be ousted from, towards the back of the bus. Engrossed in 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo', I didn't initially notice the quite-along pregnant woman who stood a couple of seats ahead of me. She must have been standing for a while, because, when I glanced up, she was uncomfortably shifting her weight from one foot to the other. The left half of the bus was taken up by men and every 'reserved' seat was taken up by women. Not one soul stirred or offered her the seat. Ashamed, I finally signalled the conductor, asking him to beckon her over and stood up offering my seat. Imagine my consternation when a young lady standing next to me fought over my seat despite my open declaration that I was giving it up for the lady who was clearly struggling. I had to communicate to her in clear terms that I would willingly sit back down because I still had a ways to go. Grudgingly, she stepped aside for the lady and I walked back to where my husband sat, muttering under my breath. In the fight for equality and/or reservations, what makes us side-step humanity?

The second incident occured about a week later. On our way back from the Mount Mary Fair at Bandra, in the hullabaloo at the station, my relatives and I accidentally got into the handicapped compartment which was right next to the heavily crowded, elbow-jostling, packed womens' compartment. Despite our assurances that we would get down at the very next relatively quiet station and move to the ladies compartment, some of the folks in the handicapped compartment felt we were trying to occupy their seats and threatened to report it to the authorities. We tried to placate them, giving up our seats every time a 'special' individual got in, communicating through our actions that we weren't trying to take advantage. In the midst of the confusion, two young strapping lads probably in their late teens, looking hale and hearty walked up near where we sat and looked around. Their faces clearly registered surprise as they found no empty seats. Dejected, they continued to stand. A couple of us stood half-heartedly, unsure of whether they deserved to sit instead and worried at the same time about the threats from the others. As we looked on, a young girl joined the two and the three of them started animatedly talking in actions. Sign language, we realized with a start. Deaf or dumb. Maybe both. And then the three of them, turned to us, signing again. This time, they were stressing on us to sit back down, not wanting us to give up their seats for them. We tried to protest, but it was in vain. What is it that they read in our eyes? Was it pity or empathy, I wondered? I looked on amazed as the young teenagers stood strong on their feet, trading in their reservations to travel as a normal individual instead. 

What I witnessed that day felt humbling. Most of the time, we take so much for granted and fight over petty things, fume over unmet wants, never seem content with what we have, always striving for more which is not a bad thing in itself. It is important to be ambitious and have wants. But in contrast, lessons in humility are sometimes taught at the most unexpected phases in life, by the most unexpected people. 

I would love to hear your views!

37 comments:

  1. So true! loved the last lines..:-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a very humbling experience Uma :)

      Delete
  2. I always knew that you are too soft. But I think it's good in a way. Stay that way Deepa. :) We can do with more people like you. HARRY

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :) Guess my comments give it away huh?

      Delete
    2. yuup.

      I will tell you a story and this is a true story. A guy called Leon Ramsden killed Paul Gilligan in Pepper Alley pub in Bolton. I was leaving my house for short walk when I realise Leon Ramsden was drinking can of beer sitting on my front garden wall. I asked him to leave and he got off the wall and threw the can of beer on me and said to me what are you going to do? I stood there and was ready to thump him when my Mrs came out of the house and stopped me. I went inside changed my jacket and by this time he went few doors down and I went out for walk. When I came back he was sitting on my wall again in front. I went inside and was going to confront him again but I was stopped by my Mrs and she called the police and had him arrested for assault and few moths later he commited the above murder. I'm surprise the kinds of individuals I had run in I'm not in the coffin.

      The point of the story is we Indian are no way like that because if it's not inside you it's not comming out. Simple deduction. The way you write and the thing you write one can tell what kind of individual you are. Thus above sentence. HARRY PS Have a good day.

      Delete
    3. Took a while to digest that, and yes I concur. An individual's character cannot be faked or built up. If its not inside you its not coming out. Nice one.

      Delete
  3. Oh! The pregnant lady incident has happened with me. I was in College that time. I think there are all sorts of people and we have to learn from the good human beings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, what can I say. A couple years pass by and by far, the mentality is still the same :(

      Delete
  4. Yes such instances help you bring back your faith in humanity. I too have seen many times when old people are standing and young healthy people refuse to budge from their seats. Very nice post Deepa.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks V. Yes, I have heard concerns from my MIL and my Mom too that no one ever shows basic courtesy to the senior citizens in public transport. They are left to rely on the 'Senior Citizens reserved seats' and if someone there refuses to give up the seat, then call out to the conductor and complain.

      Delete
  5. OS very true mam, there are so many things to think about and Do something about , rather than fight over petty things ..

    Bikram's

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :) I just read this yesterday though - "I do not think it is easy to be happy at all times. Only an accomplished yogi can be !! Because Mind is like a butterfly..difficult to stop it for long time." Wanting, comparing, yearning etc, guess its all just basic human nature. Hard to resist!

      Delete
  6. How true Deepa! It is not merely the 'isms' but also all those things that we see as 'matters of principle' - like reserved seats - which make us forget that the one matter of principle above all is consideration for others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What 'isms'? Didn't get that. Yes, reservations are always a pain and hinder progress I believe - be it for caste, gender, education, promotions. The minute we use a reservation, we acknowledge that one side is weaker.

      Delete
  7. Well written Deepa-we are concerned about our rights ,but give no thought to others plight or their rights.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Guess, it needs to be a combination of both Indu, can't live without either!

      Delete
  8. The last line says it all...How true!! There's so much to learn..
    Beautifully penned, Deepa.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Bus hua bus mein travelSeptember 24, 2012 at 6:57 AM

    Kaun sa bus mein jaati hai tu? Which part of the city? Nothing like this ever happened to me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tata car se baahar nikal, sab experience karega. Best thing would be travel by Mumbai local for a week, the kind of stuff you see in there, a whole new experience every time!

      Delete
  10. You know I would call you blessed for having witnessed something like this. They are getting rarer and rarer. I remember one incident which still makes me feel bad about thinking the worst of someone... http://cybernag.in/2010/12/have-we-lost-faith-in-humanness/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know. I read your post, we have become so cynical haven't we? But the mass in themselves are so so dangerous and scary that we can't help doubting even a good act.

      Delete
  11. Lessons in humility often come in when they are least expected. Beautiful post. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I was discussing this 2 minutes back with a member of my team and then I saw your post. We witness such scenes in Delhi Metro very frequently where people push back old men and women coming out of a coach just to get in as quickly as possible. People also find it hard to give seats to physically challanged men and women.
    A lot of us are not human anymore.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, I hear about such concerns even from my Mom, my MIL etc. People have really grown hardened skin, nothing affects them anymore :(

      Delete
  13. We have become intolerant and insensitive...and your last line is bang-on.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great post Deepa and like the others said "The last line said it all". Sad thing is, sometimes in society people fail to take in such lessons in humility even when it is slammed in their faces ! There do exist people who never learn!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like the saying in Tamil - no amount of prodding will move a thick skinned buffalo, true, some people never learn!

      Delete
  15. Truly said Deepa.

    How are you guys doing?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey S, we're good. How's you doing? Long time no see. Fall's setting in huh?

      Delete
  16. Loved the last lines. True that we fight over some petty things, but sometimes it will be hard to decide whether we should go for it or give up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the confusion of the millenium and a lot of times, there's no time to contemplate that and we act without worrying about the consequences!

      Delete
  17. Although this is an old post, stumbled across it now. Great Stuff

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...