I wonder sometimes how God decides who should be fortunate and who shouldn’t be. Recently I saw a lot of scenes around me that made me think of how fortunate I am and how it is that I am and others aren’t. I have always been around poverty (this is not a rich country) but, I have seen only flashes of it. When traveling in bus or rushing to get to places, I have run by beggars and cripples without noticing- totally immersed in my own world. But when forced to be around the less fortunate, there is so much that was and is so obvious and I missed to see it all.
The other day, my room mate Ais and I were traveling to work. We had some random work to finish and that day we felt like we had all the time in the world. The bus was exceptionally slow and there wasn’t really much on my mind. There were only a few people standing in the bus (me being one of them), Ais had managed a seat. I noticed that a girl, hardly 10 years old, was crying silently. She was sitting beside Ais and silently weeping. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. She kept wiping it off and still more tears were pouring down. She was grieving so quietly that Ais didn’t even notice. I wondered if she was traveling on her own. She carried with her a bag full of odd assortment of clothes and clocks and jugs. I felt pity and wanted to ask her if she wanted help but I was only beginning to learn the local language and by the time I formed crude sentences in my head that described what I wanted to ask something even more disturbing met my eyes.
A family of four sat on another seat not far away from where I stood- a father, mother and 2 boys. The man had lost one of his fingers and two others were fused together and had lost the skin over them. He held his older son close. The child seemed relatively healthy. But what bothered me was the other child. He was barely 3 to 4 years old (may be less). The child was naked and the mother held on to him loosely. There was nothing much on the child’s body to hold on to. He was nothing more than bones and skin. The child’s skin was stretched and his belly was swollen. His feet were too weak to hold him up and his face was shallow. The sight was so shocking that I couldn’t look away. For a few minutes I stood there and stared at the child’s leg dangling off his mother’s lap and my brain did nothing- just asked me to stare and stare.
Just then, the girl whom I had seen cry got up and she got off from the bus. I sat down at the seat next to Ais. Now I couldn’t see the baby and his leg. I remembered what two of my friends had once told me. Nasru and Rahul had once told me that they had seen a parent trying to feed Fanta (or some other carbonated drink) to a child who they thought was dying. I had just heard what they said then. When I sat there in the bus, I visualized that scene and shuddered.
It was not until I got off the bus and walked to my office that I realized that I should have done something. I had just got my salary. I don’t know if giving money would have solved anything but at least that child would have had something filling to eat. It still bothers me that I didn’t do anything about it. But next time I know I won’t let my shock get in the way.