All of us are concerned about the safety of our dear and near ones. We express our concern in many ways. “Take care,” is a very, very common phrase we use, time and time again, to do that. I do it every day, so many times… and for so many dear people in my life.
Some months ago, a very dear young-student of mine was travelling alone to Pune. When the bus started, she sent me a sms saying that the journey had just begun . She was very excited to travel by the Expressway and all alone, particularly.
“Take care,” I instantly replied, “Be careful with the strangers.”
“Don’t worry sir,” the young one quickly consoled me, “I am sitting next to an elderly lady!”
I sent a smiley to this dear student of mine. But, behind that smiling face, hid a little bit of my embarrassment. “How much protective we are! How low is our trust level!” I wondered.
But then, I also felt a lot happy for what I had done and said to this dear one, so spontaneously. I meant well for her… I wanted her to exercise some caution… and as she was a young girl, travelling for the first time, I argued in my mind that I had done the right thing. Above all, I am sure, my gesture must have made her feel loved, cared for and special.
So, I do not regret about my gesture towards this young soul.
Some days ago, I was to make my return journey from Mangalore by train. “Son, be careful about the strangers in your compartment,” my elderly mom advised me, “Do no accept any eatables or drinks offered by them… You must have heard about how passengers are looted by drugging.”
“Thank you mom, I will keep that in my mind,” I made my mom feel loved and respected. She had advised her beloved son with all her love and concern. And yes, when she had said what she did, I felt loved, cared for and special!
“Take care of your baggage,” an uncle of mine advised me, “Carry a chain and a lock to tie your bags… You must have heard of how bags disappear when you are asleep.”
“Thank you uncle, I will remember what you have said,” I made my uncle too feel loved and respected. And again, yes, I did feel loved, cared for and special when my uncle did show his concern.
In my section, there were three families. Latif, a smart young-man, was travelling with his beautiful wife Sania and their vibrant, three-year-old Rehan. There was Mr. Vaz and his wife, both senior citizens. They were returning after attending their niece’s wedding. Then, there was this 50-plus lady travelling all alone, and aloof - and, all the time busy doing some embroidery.
None of us bothered to tie our bags or to think about what we offered to - or offered by - each other. All of us had something and we shared with each other. Rehah was the clown, our entertainer… He kept eating not only from us but also from everyone around. It was fun.
In between, a couple of young foreign tourists entered our compartment. They immediately fell for Rehan! He was watching some action cartoon on his father’s laptop. They joined the little one laughing and screaming with him as they watched it. Rehan, all charged-up, ferried for them our snacks – chips, idlies, sandwiches, grapes and oranges. These young foreigners – two ladies and a man – were in a foreign land. We were all strangers around them. They traveled so light – some lose, plain clothes and one piggy bag on their back – and they traveled with a light heart. Till their destination – Goa – arrived, they were found absorbed with the simple joy that they could lay their hearts on…
Before they got off the train, all of them lifted high our Rehan and kissed.
No, neither Rehan nor any of us there - drugged these foreigners. No, they did not disappear with any of our bags, either!
The next morning, when we all had to get off, we first helped the senior citizens with their bags… Latif helped me, I helped Rehan.
The only person, who helped herself, was that aloof lady. She had not spoken a single word with any one of us, leave alone sharing food… Her embroidery was still incomplete, even though the journey had ended.
Probably, like us,
some well-wishers must have cautioned her:
“Be careful about the strangers…
Tie your bags…
Do not accept
anything they give you to eat or drink…"
That morning, this lady had landed safely.
So had the rest of us.
The difference – I think – was: unlike her, our embroidery was complete!
The image used in this Post is by Ashok Ahuja. He is a professional Photographer and a very dear friend of mine. He is also one of the founder members of The Dawn Club, and, along with his gifted-artist wife, Sudha, has been helping me, and the Club, right from its inception.