“India will teach us the tolerance and gentleness of mature mind, understanding spirit and a unifying, pacifying love for all human beings.”
A beautiful bright Monday morning in Delhi. Ok, no, it is not as beautiful as I described. Mondays have always been painful, especially when you have to go to the office after a long and lazy two-day weekend. As you all know, Delhi Metro has been the best metro rail service in the country for the past 14 years. It surely is a great way, actually the only reasonable way, to go from anywhere to anywhere bypassing the heavy honking traffic on those not so wide roads of the city. Everyone loves the metro, but I do for a different reason. That day, like every other day, I was waiting for the train to reach the station, on the platform. Already late by an hour to the office (remember, it is a Monday), I was greeted by a middle-aged man in a white lalchi and a strongly pulled back hairline, around 45-years old, Ramlal Shastri. This Mr. Shastri, I assume from his continuous pestering of questions, is new to this mad mazed city.
Ramlal Shastri: “Arey bhai saheb, yahaan se Chandni Chowk kaise jaate hai?”
Me: “ Pata nahi hain ji, shaayad aapko Rajiv Chowk jaana padega. Woh doosre platform se.”
R.S: “Acha, wahaan se aapko pata nahi hai kaise jaana hai? Koi baat nahi. Aap job kar rahe ho yahaan ki padhayi?”
Me: “ Ji, job kar rahaan hoon.” Busily reading my morning news on my phone.
R.S: “Sahi hain, bhai saheb. Mera beta, Aman, yahaan padh raha hain. Usey dekhne aaya hoon main, Ranigarh se. Woh bhi aap ke jaise kuch job karna chahta hain. Main toh khetibaadi karta hoon aur mera beta engineer ban ne wala hain.” With a proud chest and glowing face filled with happiness. “Dhanyawaad, bhai saheb. Ye leejiye laddoo, mere bete ka janam din hain aaj” ,and my train halted at the station.
I couldn’t stop thinking about that smile of that proud father, who is excited to see to his son and yes, happy birthday, Aman. It was great to see someone who is happy that his child is going to lead a better life than they had ever did. Meanwhile, I pushed myself into the crowd of the metro train and trying to focus on shuffling my playlist and reading my fresh facebook feed. I was sweating profusely, even with the air-conditioned metro coaches, owing to the full house attendance of the employees. The train gave a sudden jerk and a young lad next to me, happened to push a woman standing next to him. Of course, this is Delhi and you will get to here every swear word that’s ever been invented. She went into a rage and started shouting at this poor lad, who had nothing to do with the push.
“Abey, kya kar rahe ho? Aise gande harkatein karta hain tu ladkiyon se? Shame on you.” shouted the girl.
He turned pale after a few more men started abusing him from the back and ran away from the place to a different spot. I remember seeing his eyes filled with tears. It is sad to see how things changed in Delhi after a few incidents. Well, yes, may be we deserve it for what we let happen to a fellow human being or people should just stop generalising that every man is the same creature within.
Skipping the boring 8 hour session at the office, (well, not really boring, but let’s skip it for now) I came back to board my return train. This time, I had some place to sit down and next to me was a man, around 50-year old with a very dignified presence and features. Another young man in his twenties was asleep on his shoulder and when a guy standing offered to wake him up, he replied.
“Arey, rehne do yaar, bechara thak gaya ho gaya.”, with a calm smile running across his lips.
This immediately reminded me of the HoNY (Humans of New York) photograph that said the exact same thing. I wondered if that ever really happens and yes, it did happen right here. Those acts of kindness and other little things are the ones that actually matter and bring about a smile in our lives. A little thank you to a waiter at a restaurant may make his day.
With the music playing in my ears, metro announcements in the background, chitchats and snickering of college girls peeping into their mobile phones, business deals of a busy merchant, hundreds of messages flying away from cellphones and hopeful faces with dreams about their future endeavours, this one day showed me love, pride, anger, hope, kindness and pity in people around me. It was a great experience and so is everyday. I leave my home in the morning and by the time I come back, I am not the same person anymore. This place keeps me inspiring every day to live life the way it is meant to be lived, with people, with dreams, with hope and joy. I love this feeling of being able to experience many lives at once just by a mere observation of my surroundings. I kept thinking about everything meeting a father who is excited to see his son after a long time to a man who was kind enough to let someone fall asleep on his shoulder. I see pride in a father’s smile when talking about his child, hard work in a clerk’s daily work, sincerity in a student’s efforts, love from his wife in an employee’s lunch box, hatred in a woman’s heart for misbehaving men, anger in a delayed reply from a boyfriend, confidence in a school kid’s homework notes and happiness inside everyone in common.
We don’t really care about our religion, class, caste, language etc., but we are always there for each other when in need. No matter how busy we are with our lives, we always have time to lend our shoulder and a helping hand. We fight amongst ourselves, we settle our differences, we worship a million gods and we respect each other’s feelings.
We are Indians and this is our country, India.
Happy Independence Day.