Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Blind Man

I was out of office, walking down the street to a small ice cream stall. Manish was with me. As we walked on the pavement, we heard a man say, "Dada, ektu bus stop e pouchhe deben? " ( Brother, Could you take me to the bus stop?).

Both of us looked back. There he was. Standing right in front of a huge banyan tree. He was facing the tree. A small middle aged man, hair white around the corners and bald on the top, a little plump, blind. He held a small bag in his left hand and a stick in his right. He stood there saying the same sentence over and over again. People passed by him. Manish walked back and held his left arm. The man made a weird sort of a grateful noise and walked alongside Manish. I followed them behind.

All my life, I have hated being helpless amidst people I didn't know. Even if I had been scared and tired, I have always put up a brave and strong front. And I imagined myself blind, standing, facing a tree and calling out to strangers to help me walk down to the bus stop. Being blind didn't hurt. What hurt me was his helplessness and his loneliness. I wondered,if he had no one at home, who could have walked with him. Or maybe they were too busy and this man had to come down all by himself. I don't know what could have been a perfect explanation and I do not want to judge anybody. I do not have such a life. I am not blind and I have nobody in my family or friends who is blind. So, I am not the right person to judge what was right or wrong.
As I watched the man trod along in front of me, holding Manish's hand, it seemed so sad, so cruel. I am sure if I am being dramatic, but for some reason it didn't feel good.

A few days back, I was waiting for the metro train at Garia (Kavi Nazrul) Station. There was rush. As we saw the train approach the platform, people waited ready to board. And that's when it happened. A man jumped on the tracks right in from of the train. The train ran over him. I didn't see the man. I did not see him jump either. I was talking on the phone and had looked the other side right at that time. People shrieked and moved away. The train came to a halt and waited at the platform for the next twenty minutes. People curiously tried to find out what happened to the man. Through the window, he could be seen. People said, he had jumped too far. He missed the track. The train did not kill him. It ran over his legs. People who had looked out of the window to see, said his body was thrashing. He was a man not very old.

I wondered what made him jump. I wondered, how painful his life could have been, that he wanted to end his life this way. That day on, everyday I watch the train approach the station, it reminded me of that day. And I realized, that jumping on the tracks in front of an approaching train would take a lot of courage and however hard I had seen life, it was always easier to live. Life must have been real cruel to him.

And what surprised me the most was how people move on in life. How people gathered together on the same platform every day and travelled. How people had discussed, that the idiot should have chosen some other time because the train was 20 mins late and we all were 20 mins late for office. And I realised, that even I did not bother. I did not bother to know what happened to the man. All I could do was wonder.

Life just moves on. Players on stage. Play your part and get out of the stage. Re-appear when you need to. Seems like a proper explanation. And the worst part is, right now I am not liking my part in the play.