Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I don't know (not very light reading)

I am on a train to Hampi. On the way to the station I passed an Indian bakery. The cookies on display looked so good but so calorie ladened. I wanted to buy just two pieces but they wouldn't sell less than 250 grams. Greed won and I bought the minimum  250 grams required.

The cookies were warm, smelt good and I was enjoying the anticipation of eating them when I saw an old invalid woman- the skinniest most unfortunate person I had seen in a long time. Bangalore has it's share of beggars but none i have seen have come close to her.

She was dragging herself across the platform with her one good arm and leg. Her thighs were skinner than my arms. She was pushing a plastic bag in front of her but she was not begging.

The 250gm minimum seemed so appropriate as I took out my two cookies and gave her the rest. She did not look at me as she put it in the bag in front of her. Feeling happier I crossed over to my platform.

Ten minutes later - after I had looked at all the charts and people on my platform- I looked across and saw her again. She had moved some ten feet. She had neared a family of three sitting on a bench. The parents stood up and walked away. Their little boy stopped looked and was pulled along by his mom.

My train's arrival was announced and I felt helpless. I quickly walked over to the refreshment stand a bought a bottle of juice. Knowing I had but a few minutes I ran up the stairs and to the platform she was on. I handed her the juice and a hundred rupees. She put the juice in her bag and started at the note. Feeling conscious and worried about time I crossed over back to my platform. I saw her give her bag another push before I boarded my train.

I had wanted to see her eat and drink. I don't know what lies outside the station for her - a home or a slumdog millionaire gang. I don't know if she will drink the juice, don't know if the money will be robbed off her. I don't know.

Logically I should have not given her money but donated to an NGO that helps many such people. It is hard though to be logical when you feel helpless and guilty.

I think I tried to do something so I could sleep easy. It is 1 am and sleep isn't coming. Must be the noise of the train. I really don't know.


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