There is no excuse. Everyone has to run his race, but it is time to realize somebody else’s story.
After a month of lockdown, I went to shop for a few things we needed at home. It had already been a couple of months since the last time I had left home. I was welcomed by an eerie silence and the emptiness of the roads. For miles I couldn’t see anyone.
I looked left and right for signs of life, but was faced with empty carts thrown without care, pottery-ware but no one crowding around to sell it as you stepped out of your car. Desolation seemed to rule supreme. My heart wrenched at this sad sight.
Just a few weeks ago life was unfolding on this very road. There were vegetable vendors and mobile food stalls with hungry office goers gathered around them. People stopped their vehicles to buy fruits, flowers, helmets, etc. It was a cacophony at its best, but for us a part of life.
I reached home heavy hearted. My head was filled with thoughts of how all these people were surviving now. For most of us they are an invisible and faceless part of the populace, about whom we know nothing nor want to have anything to do with.
Suddenly my reverie was broken by “I don’t want to eat French toast, I want an omelette.” My temper surged but controlling myself I wondered how easily the “haves” think of choices. Does the vendor, the dhobi, the maid, the millions of people we are dependent on, have a choice? Did the thousands of people who walked and walked homeward have a choice, when they suddenly found themselves without any means of living?
The “haves” wrote odes on them. Hundreds of videos were circulated on you tube depicting the plight of these people trying to go home. Why were they trying to go home? Because they had no choice. It was either that they perished in an unknown place, or they died where someone knew them.
Meanwhile, pictures of different types of cakes and sweets we made were widely circulated in WhatsApp groups. Recipes were discussed as if there was no tomorrow. But the daily wager who was cooped up in his one room or in a shanty had no clue when and where from his next morsel would come. He didn’t care less if you burned the first few cakes you made to entertain your boredom. Survival doesn’t have options. The interesting bit is that these people didn’t have an option, so they managed to reach their destination.
But we who cannot survive without choices – will we? If we never wondered where our next meal would come from, we are privileged to have been given a head start in the race of life. There is no excuse. Everyone has to run his race, but it is time to realize somebody else’s story.
Birth and death don’t give us choices. Nature gives us no choices: Covid-19 changed the course of the world in one stroke, after all. If providence has given us the good fortune of having choices, it is on us to be benevolent and open minded. Share these choices with the millions who don’t have the luxury of a choice. That is why we have been given this life. To care and share. To give back what we so unceremoniously took. To truly understand our privileges.
But if anyone has the world’s goods and
Sees his brother in need, Yet closes his
Heart against him, How does God’s love
Abide in him? Little children, Let us not love
In words or talk but in Deed and in Truth.
The Holy Bible 1 John 3:17-18