This is an incident that happened happened a few days age but getting it out of my head has been difficult. It meanders along the synapses of imagination and pricks at the seat of reason or the mind. Why I ask myself is there so much discrepancy in what we have. We complain about having smaller houses or cars or salaries not realising that some people do not even have those things.
To the passive reader it is an ordinary event that happens to anyone at anytime. It need not even be too significant to the lives of most. But it hit me, one inexperienced in the ways of the world and it hit me hard.
My family and I had just finished watching a play on MG Road in Bangalore. We had time to kill and leisurely strolled along the street, taking in the sights, smells and sounds around us. The scene around us was vibrant to say the least, complete with hawkers selling wares like peanuts, kulfis and corn. There were shiny premium showrooms like Nike, Adidas, Tanishq and Manayavar winking in the fading light of the evening with their neon boards turned on. Smaller food outlets were also opened selling an assortment of delicious foodstuffs like Pav Baji, Dhai Puri and Pani puri whose very names can cause one to stare dreamily in space. There was the omnipresent line of bedraggled cars with irascible drivers hooting and screeching out of tune.
In the midst of the crowd, I saw an old pen seller.
His eyebrows were so thick and bushy that they cast a shadow over his eyes. He scuffled along at a slow pace with a stick clasped in one hand tapping on the pavement in measured frequency. His face was weathered like the face of a mountain left to face the elemental rage for too long. He wore a dirty white kurta and black pants. He had a sling bag containing the pens by his side.
This is when I realized that he was blind.
The the happy excitable crowd of youngsters, he stood out by a mile, but also faded into the background. No one seemed to be paying him any attention and I seemed to be the only one looking at him with feelings of anger and unhappiness. Why mys the cast of life be so random that there are people who are subjugated to a life of poverty. It was then that i realized that the die being cast in my favour was mere chance. There he was, still working for a living with no children to look after him in this old age, It made me sad.
However after that moment of social indignation passed I felt admiration. He could have resorted to begging like so many people in my country. But he chose to earn his daily bread and not beg for it. There was dignity in that act. The vastness of his spirit belied the absence of sight he ailed from. He did not want my pity I was sure then. He was no beggar but a man who did the best he could with the means he had. That was the sign of a true solider.
The only physical reminder I have from this incident a two ballpoint pens, one blue and the other pink. It was reminded me of the intrinsic sadness of the human condition,
But also its intrinsic worth and tenacity.