We, the citizens of India make a very inconsiderate and unaccommodating nation.
As much as I am proud its unique culture, geography and heritage. It irks me to know that it is one of the most passively discriminating countries. Be it colour, caste, creed, religion or statehood, everybody seems to have a chest-thumping theory as to how and why they are eligible to claim peremptory rights to our cultural space. It often makes me wonder, if were better off a homogeneous nation like Japan or China? Are all these lives sacrificed at the altar of self promotion, propaganda politics and utter disregard for humanity worth for preserving the grand idea of diversity in paper? Every gali, school, office has a sob story to tell.
We all have known this, don’t we? In fact, most of us have lived in constant denial of this grotesque reality. I must confess that I was one among the millions who refused to speak up until I decided to write this piece. I decided to come out of the comfort zone and the fear of being tagged as sympathy monger as I encountered an appalling yet a ruminating moment. Let me take you to the scene of shame…
I was catching my morning train off Trivandrum to my home at Thrissur. Being the slow rising sloth, I make up for the lost time in getting ready by resorting to primitive yet effective semi-run or brisk-walk, making the fellow passengers wondering what had passed them. So, I proceeded towards the elevator at an enhanced pace. I could find that two elderly women accompanied by a younger lady was standing at the foot of the elevator. I could sense the first timer’s hesitancy in getting on to the escalator. As I was used to such sights, I decided not to stray and move ahead. That turned out to be a very bad decision in the end.
Fast forward 10-15 seconds, as I have almost reached the cross over bridge, I could not control my curiosity to take a peek at the foot of the escalator. I could find one of the two elderly ladies was on her way to hit the metal steps of the elevator after loosing balance. That poor lady who was fairly healthy, couldn’t balance herself on her feet and collapsed with a resounding thud on to the metal beam. To add to the misery, she could get up as her ankle was twisted at an acute angle and evidently was too weak to support her body. The poor soul had to lie down in that position till the escalator took her to the top. She miserably was thrown off the metal steps letting her roll on the floor till she could resist the momentum. If my loyal readers are not able to empathize the plight of that old lady, who possibly could be a mother or a wife to someone, that is solely due to my incapacity as a writer and not because she suffered any less.
Of course, I rushed into the situation and helped her to stand up and regain the composure. Despite going through this extremely painful, I listened to her as she blamed the whole mishap on her fault and lack of understanding. I could only bow my head to the toughness of this lady and in shame as a citizen who is responsible to take care of his elders. I painfully came to the realization that the difference between her falling and making a safe walk would’ve been a warning above the elevator or a dedicated personnel to help and guide these people out. Or even a few more caring and responsible citizens unlike me who would’ve had foreseen this coming and helped the lady. If that fails to inspire you, how both for a selfish reason for being able to sleep well with a clear conscience.
This might not mean nothing to many of you, but it is yet important to know the deeper underpinnings of this accident. Where are we heading as a society? When we are setting up a public facility, how many times have our establishment taken into consideration the needs of the physically and mentally challenged or senior citizens. How did we denigrate into a discourteous and ungrateful nation? How can we save ourselves and millions that follow our footsteps from following the wrong path?
I believe changes should be twin fold. At an intra-personal level and interpersonal level at the society level. The intra-personal changes could anything that inspires us to change our current attitude towards the senior citizens and physically challenged and progress towards a more inclusive society.
It could be awareness camps among the key stakeholders of the society ranging from professionals, religious heads and students. The core idea of the agenda should be spread a culture of compassion and empathy.
The next change should come from the commanding heights. There should be enough hard infrastructure to back up the addition in our soft capacity. We often fail to see this brick and mortar support for the lesser privileged among us. More dive-in facilities, slanted steps, braille books, other literature for the blind, visible warnings and personal assistance to the senior citizens.
We often witness and read our policymakers rhetoric on the progress we have achieved since independence from our colonial masters, but it is truly upon us to asses whether we have shed the colonial psyche. Are we ready to become world’s greatest nation as we once were? If ever we achieve that, would that be a collective effort or a lopsided one which reduces our underprivileged minority to the fringes of our prosperous territory.
Our elders are our living heritage, let us not be forgetful about they have done us. Let us help them lead life of dignity. They’ve earned the right to be treated with respect.
Rethink, Re-imagine and Relive.