The village where I lived for 10 years before moving to Bangalore has a few ‘town drunks’ like any town in any country in the world. They were harmless, generally sweet guys who just drank a freakin’ lot. Each had their own little quirks and annoying habits but for the most part they were considered a part of the town, like a monument of sorts.
Last summer one of them was attacked by a drunk jerk of a man who runs a local business there. A British bully who is so low class that virtually everyone in town considers him to be lower on the social totem pole than our sweet ‘town drunk’ who is a really nice guy who just hasn’t had the easiest life. Friends of mine who witnessed the attack told me that people immediately rushed to help him and called an ambulance. Other friends of mine in town called the police and registered a complaint against the bully. People cared about the victim and stayed with him until the police came. They checked on him in the hospital. Setup a Facebook page to bring awareness of the incident and more.
There was obvious compassion and concern from the very first second when passers-by saw that a fellow human was in distress. And that’s normal. That’s how things should be. That’s what all of us would wish for if our son or daughter or mom or dad was in trouble.
But that’s not how things work in India. Here a young woman who has been brutally gang raped and beaten is left on a road side for an hour before someone has the decency to help her. Why is that? Is it because it wasn’t anyone’s problem? Because they were rushing and couldn’t be bothered? Or because some Indians just don’t value human life or lack the compassion that should be inherent in us all?
Well that person was me today. Not a victim but someone who saw a ‘town drunk’ fall down and couldn’t be bothered to walk over to help him get up. I literally just stood there, sort of grossed out by what looked like vomit around his mouth which I didn’t want to get anywhere near my dress. I just let him stay on the ground struggling to even sort out how to get up again he was so wasted. I stood by and watched and judged and became the uncaring person who I know my Mom would not be proud to see in me.
And then I saw the compassion rush out of a dear friend of mine. My stunningly handsome mate, who was wearing a freshly pressed designer shirt that cost more than my rent, immediately rushed over to the gentleman without a second thought. He first asked if he was okay. He reached out both hands and insisted on getting the gentleman back on his feet. Then he stood and watched him walk off, sharing his genuine concern over what he saw and about the safety of the man who staggered and stumbled with each step he took. When the gentleman reached the busy corner of 12th Main and 100 Feet Road in Indiranagar, my friend sighed and under his breath said, “there’s no way he’s going to make it across the street before the light changes.” And he didn’t. He got stuck in the middle and there is no safe place to stand there, it’s a small little divider and no place for someone who could fall. My friend rushed off and stopped traffic to get to the middle and waited, caring for the gentleman, and he walked him safely across the street himself.
We are all connected in this crazy cosmic world by only a few degrees of separation. Sure, we are not actually related to each other … but we are all someone’s son or daughter and we all matter. But like me, it seems that some of us have forgotten that. Or maybe in some cases, sadly, some people never learned that compassion should be a basic part of who we are. And I hope we can all agree that this should be a trait that is a part of our everyday life. If my daughter, who is my angel and my reason for living, were even in distress and needed help — would you help her? I would die inside to know that people just walked by her and let her suffer needlessly. No one should ever be allowed to suffer for even a single moment if we can help it. Personally I am ashamed about my own behaviour today – it was a wake up call …. and I for one plan to change that. He was someone’s angel and reason for living and I let him down.
My friend who helped the gentleman today would like us all to make a pledge to help others. To acknowledge that giving a moment of our time could change the life of someone in need — maybe even save a life. I love the idea, and I pledge to change and be the person that my parents hoped I would be … and grow as a woman.