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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What Next?

I had just boarded the almost empty 10-pm train from my office area, when I saw her – a very old and unkempt lady sprawled over the pathway – exposing most of her body, and too tired to cover herself up. The train stopped, and she made half an attempt to pull her saree down and go back to sleep. I had forgotten about her by the time I took my seat, staring blankly at the passing stations and the dwindling crowds.

About a couple of stops before the last one, she got up and hobbled to the seat next to mine. Everyone immediately got up and left. I remained, a tad uncomfortable but doggedly ignoring her. She was leaning towards me, eyes closed, which was when I saw that most of the other passengers were giggling and motioning me to sit next to them. I did, and that’s when I noticed that she had urinated all over the pathway.

To my utter embarrassment, I started crying. This was one of the few moments where I had no idea what to do – go to her and give her some money, ask her what she needed and where she had to go, call up some authorities or just let her be.

What would you have done?


Kunal Chandra said...

Honestly, probably I would have done the same as you (minus crying). In fact I think most of us would hav been so insensitive as to not even notice her, leave alone keeping her in mind much later and sharing her story.

There is no authority you could have called. may be you could have given her some money but going by your description she was probably in much too a debilitated state to make any good use of that money. Dont know!

Anupama Srinivasan said...

There are a few women organisations that take care of mentally ill women (Banyan in Chennai) who can provide some help for these women.
Its always handy to keep these helpline numbers with us. I keep the animals, children (1098) and mentally-ill people, beggars of the local city with me always so that I can inform them when needed.
But one has to take the effort to wait with her until they arrive, and some follow up too.

Anupama Srinivasan said...

and I would've glared at the gigglers. Gone back and sat next to her. Its just urine, the human suffering there needs a little attention at that moment.
Yes, I would've cried too.

Archana said...

Thanks a lot Anu - seriously. I will store the numbers now.