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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Of human kindness and then some more !

29 june 2013

It was past 12.00 in the night when I reached the Bisleri signal on my way home.

The city was shutting down for the day. The traffic had thinned too.

The signal turned red just as we turned to cross the highway from under the flyover.

The highway at that junction was bathed in a bright yellow light.... it highlighted clearly the plight of those huddled under the flyover. the place they called home.

The otherwise , throbbing with activity, traffic signal, now looked like a huge dormitory. Mats laid out one after the other. Men, women , young lads, girls , children... all fast asleep. Deep in slumber. the passing vehicles didnt disturb them, nor the fact that they were being exposed to the elements and the gaze of those that walked or whizzed past them. They had had a busy and a tiring day and were clutching on to their moments of rest and peace , oblivious to their surroundings.

Every mat had 2 or more bodies stretched out on them. Pillows were fashioned out of folded clothes , bags or the arm folded. Occasionaly the head rolled off the 'pillow' and yet, even in slumber they dug their head in deeper, trying to find that comfort spot.

There were the people and then there were the dogs. At the head of every 2 or 3 mats there sat a dog. A dog who looked healthy, with a shiny coat.. none of the mangly ones here.  The dogs, bright eyed, ears perked, tongues lolling out - just looking out. looking out for themselves and for their people who had just retired.

Amongst all these sleeping bodies there sat an old man, still eating his dinner. he had a couple of rotis topped with a sabzi on a piece of newspaper. He called out to a sari clad girl who was hanging out some clothes to dry. she went up to him . He had apparently called out to her to sample his meal. She stood next to him, bent at the waist, palm outstretched and he smilingly pressed bit of roti and sabzi onto it. .She took the morsel and turned. As she turned,I  realised that she was in the family way. He called out to her again, holding out his plate as if urging her to take some more. She said something in reply , walked past him and then me. She came up to a corner and put the food down on the pavement . She gestured to the old man to hold on and that she would join him . I wondered why she had put the food down on the bare footpath. she turned back to go to the old man. I wondered if she would come back eat the food she had put down on the road side.

I saw her go back to the old man, take another bite from his plate and put it in her mouth. She then walked back to the corner where she had put down the earlier morsel. Now I was really curious and turned my head to follow here with my eyes.

And I saw what had happened. She had laid out the first morsel for a frail and hungry kitten. She had now come back to coax the little one to eat..S he petted it and directed its head to the food.

The kitten made for  pitiful sight. It was skinny, frail and looked ill too. It sniffed at  the food and turned its head away. Then tuned its head labouriously once again, for a lick. It seemed as if even that bit of physical effort was taxing for the little one.

The girl had walked away into the night.

What astonished me as much as the old man's and the young girl's kindness and empathy was the behaviour of the other animals on the scene - the dogs.

They had sensed and probably understood the hunger and the helplessness of the little kitten. They did not attack him or even playfully tease or frighten him. They had let him be pampered and fed . They had let him be.

"It's a dog eat dog world" say some. . I would  beg to differ

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