It was getting late. We had a series of test the next day. We needed to get to the hostel on time. We were sitting in a cab. Waiting for it to get full so we could leave. And I saw a young boy, I had taught on our weekend social cause program Prajjwal. The boy was a differently abled child. He was slower in his studies, was speech impaired and had a few facial disfigurations. He was bigger and older than the other kids but he was always kind and always persistent. He always walked the whole way from home to our institute, where we taught many other below poverty line children. It was a 3 kilometer distance away.
He came and sat in the cab but the cab driver pushed him out and I saw a group of other cab drivers standing around and making fun of the kid. I heard him argue with the driver and demanding why he was pushed out. What if he had fallen and got hurt? And all the while the other auto drivers made fun of his speech impairment, imitated him and laughed around. He looked at us, the teachers who taught him every Sunday, maybe looking for support, maybe expecting some help. But all we did was just sit inside the cab quietly.
I felt disgusted with myself, for being a coward. I wanted to get out of the cab right then. I wanted to protect the boy from all the abuse he must be going through as part of his daily life. He was so brave. But I did nothing. The cab left the stand. I felt so guilty, I felt I would never be able to forgive myself, to let go this feeling of incapability. And I vowed to never let something like this happen again. I wanted to do something. I didn’t know what. I just wanted the boy to not have to go through such circumstances again. But what could I do? What good was learning all those moral lessons and business ethics when I couldn’t put it into practice when the time came?
I reached my hostel. Changed and as time went by, I started forgetting the boy and the incidence. I was more worried about the tests the next day. I didn’t have time to think about someone else. The feeling I had when I saw the boy being treated that way, slowly left me. And I was immersed in my daily mundane activities. My priorities already shifting back to the way it was before I saw the whole incidence.
It’s sad to see the way human mechanism works. How we are able to close our eyes to everything wrong that goes on around us. Because they don’t affect us, we are able to unsee them. The incidence although most of the time fails to make its presence felt, occasionally leaves me with twigs of guilt. Although that infuriating feeling of injustice has dulled, I still get that image of that boy floating in my head sometimes… A lot of time has passed since then, I wonder why I am still haunted by the vivid images of that evening…