Friday, June 24, 2005

Self Respect

Lost in the thoughts of materialized views and parameterized cursors at 7:30 in the morning i was watching the trees go by next to my window seat in the train. The world seemed divided by a simple binary logic- the haves and the have nots. The 'have time to sleep' and the 'have not time to sleep' I was among the have nots ofcourse. The sudden appearance of the Ticket Checker jolted me out of the slumber that i was beginning to let my myself enjoy.

He was big, burly and rude. At first i could not understand why a man strode right in the middle of the ladies compartment and looked at us askingly. When i saw the all the rest of my fellow travellers fishing inside their bags, purses, wallets, i figured out the rest.

I took out my ticket and showed him and so did the other four of the six of us women seated on his left. But sitting next to me was a woman who seemed to take an eternity to take out her ticket. We all guessed it. she was travelling ticketless. Instead of a ticket there appeared in her hands a few medical prescritions.

She was going to the city to get herself checked by a doctor. There was no money in the house. For the past one month she had been travelling ticketless. Infact, she had no money to bus a bus ticket for herself.For the past two days she hadn't eaten anything.

All this was said, quitely and with dignity. As if the humiliation of it all were sufficient punishment to atone for her deeds. She stood in front of the checker, waiting to hear what he penalty he would impose.

None of us were surprised when he walked away without a word. As train reached the next station, two beggars aboded, asking for alms. Nearly everyone in our compartment opened their purses. I watched the irony of the situation. Sitting next to me was a person who probably needed money more than any of the beggars and yet her self respect would not allow her to beg. It is more difficult to be poor, when you want to keep your dignity intact.

I slipped some money in her hands silently just before getting off the train. I couldn't look into her eyes, because then, the humiliation would have been complete. I still don't know if i did the right thing because somewhere deep inside me i feel ashamed to know that i murdered a soulful of self respect for a few rupees more.


stiletto said...

beautiful beautiful.

First Rain said...

I probably would have never been able to do what you did.

Oirpus said...

You DID that?!!

I am sure if Karma is a truth then your last birth is... this one.

I am serious and I am proud.
I will surely make amends in your Orkut Fan list...