I, drenched in the stench of my gloomy proceedings at college was on my way back home, nay, it was a house.
Seated by the window-still in the inter-city connector, I let my gaze loom out on the life rolling about.
A pool of sewage, dark as despair, a dump of plastic, cattle’s and men walking about in the same mess, the hungry hutments of teeming millions of this glorious nation of mine, come on now!, these are too much to make even a person at the peak of joviality gloomy.
But I, already in the depth of my hopelessness, felt that foreign sense of unworthiness wrapping about me, making me feel not a penny gladder than the corpses floating over the ugly Ganges.
And it is in such moments that one feels the genuine need of a support. The craving for a shoulder to lean upon and ease your heart, a hand to support you to your feet and a gentle, sympathetic smile.
And it was now that I happened to witness a man. A man as strange as a stranger should be, but with an added understanding of being blind. He was selling something it seemed. Yes. He had a rickety bag dangling from one shoulder. A white colored walking-stick jewelled his right hand while the item that he proposed to sell, only if I were willing to buy in his left. The item was a piece of confectionary. Something called ‘chikki’ out there in North. It is actually groundnuts solidified in jaggery and cut into blocks, packed in plastic with a bit of paper declaring its manufacture.
Well I did not bother to allow my gaze to follow this boring and presumably insignificant personality.
The train stopped at a station. I searched for the board declaring the place. Well my stop is still two stations-up.
But as the train halted, I heard a tap behind. The kind of tap made when soft steel strikes unyielding hard steel. I turned to find the same blind trader at the threshold of the boogie. He tapped again at the threshold, then on the platform further ahead. Then he slowly lowered himself to natural ground. He tapped around and slowly, cautiously advanced ahead.
He came to a stop as his stick stroke something solid. He swayed the stick to his left and it stuck. He did the same to the right, and it stuck again. He felt over with his stick between the two ends to perceive a stone-bench. He stroke over it to see if its empty. And it was. Now he searched for its corner, lowered himself, put his ‘to be sold’ chikkies beside and finally seated himself. He loosened his hold on the stick, freed his hand, and looks into nothingness.
And believe me, a surge of courage, strength and passion to do something, anything, permeated through my being as it had never before. I wonder why…?