Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Frail Figure

It was raining cats and dogs yesterday. And the rains were accompanied by gusty winds. Winds so strong that many a tree had been uprooted. It was even difficult to walk, so strong was the current in the air. It was Sunday and I was on my way to Borivali. And was enjoying the stormy weather, feeling the cold wind literally bruise my face as the auto I was in tried to maintain a decent speed against the wind. The auto guy was concentrating very hard to veer his vehicle on the slippery road. It was indeed very bad weather. But I was enjoying the meanness of the rains and the chill in the air.

And then, I saw him. A frail, thin, semi-clad figure lying by the roadside. He was lying in a foetal position, the rains lashing on him mercilessly. Not a soul was around. I reflexively asked the auto-driver to stop. The guy was very reluctant to but I coaxed him. I stepped out and checked on the figure with the driver’s help. The auto-driver told me that the guy had passed out. He was probably too drunk. There is nothing we can do, he said, so let’s get going. “Lekin aise to ye mar jayega”, I said to him. “Jaane do, madam” was his stoic reply. There was not even any shade where the guy could be sheltered under. I had no choice but to walk past the guy and go my way. The auto-driver told me that such things are not unusual. I said, I know, but the weather is brutal today. The guy then told me ke ho sakta hai koi police ko inform kar de. I said I hope so. And then I was hit by my conscious. Why should I hope for someone to do the needful? Why can’t I make that call? Having once noticed a hoarding informing citizens to be alert on coming across anything unusual and to call the Thane police, I had stored that phone number on my cell phone. I looked it up and was glad to find it in my contacts list. I dialed that number but it was busy. And it kept busy. I called up Sanjay, briefed him up, gave him the Thane police number and asked him to keep trying. I too, kept trying till I reached Nakshatra and till other things took over my attention.

It was very late by the time I reached back home. The weather was still very bad. The rains had taken a back seat but the winds were unrelenting. In fact, what I had enjoyed in the morning was now very eerie. Once again, my thoughts went to the frail figure. And as I approached that particular spot, as expected, he was gone. I wondered what had happened to the guy. Had someone finally managed to inform the police? Or had someone recognized him and had informed his kins who had come and taken him? Or had the worse happened? I hoped not.

Once home, I asked Sanjay if he had been able to get thru’ to the cops. And he replied in the negative. On the contrary, he had a whole list of questions thrown in my direction. Who the hell do u think u r? Why can’t u mind ur own business? Kya jaroorat hai tumhe ye sab karne ki? Jhansi ki rani ho kya? Join a proper social service organization and then go about doing such things, etc. etc….. Even my elder one, who many times takes over as my elder brother (and fits in perfectly, what with his mature thoughts and rigid mind-set), gave me an earful. He tells me in his very distinct style ke “Ma, it’s good to be concerned and all that, but u could land in trouble too. Aapko samjhta nahi hain kya?” No amount of reasoning got me anywhere with the guys. So I just took a back seat and let go of the issue.

But my thoughts were with what had happened to the guy? He obviously couldn’t have disappeared into thin air. Then what had happened? He too must have family. Surely they must have been concerned about him too. The sight of that frail figure lying by the roadside with the rain beating down on him kept haunting me and kept reappearing in front of my eyes. I just couldn’t shake it off. Sanjay sensed how it was bothering me and told me to leave it as such things happen so regularly that no one gives it a second thought. I know, but it is so inhuman to just walk past. “I agree”, said Sanjay “but that’s how it is. Kya kar sakti ho tum? So just let it go”.

Just let it go………
Just let it go???????