Occasionally, I go to office on my scooter. A couple of those times, at a Subway close to my home, I’ve spotted this really wrinkly old man – pushing his rickety old cart up. The first time I saw him, he was struggling to push his cart. Despite his cart being mostly empty, he is old and mostly bones, and was really putting all of his might into it, and yet moving only a few feet per minute.
The first time I saw him, after a brief internal discussion, I turned left at the signal (instead of going straight) parked my scooter, and went (walking against the traffic) to help him drag his cart up. The entire time I was pulling (he was pushing from the other side) he kept saying “Paravalla ma” “Naa pathikraen ma” and “Thanks ma”
Sometimes, when I stop to help someone, or even see someone like this, I wonder; It’s their job, they choose to do it, so maybe they should be fine? They probably won’t find someone to help every time, so why help occasionally – it probably doesn’t make a difference anyway!
Like once, my boyfriend and I spotted and old man looking obviously lost on the street, with 2 big bags. We helped him get in the car after asking him where to go. “The big gate, near the turning, at the corner” were his directions. We took him right to the corner, found the big gate, helped him get off. As we – a very satisfied couple, turned the car, he was still standing outside staring at the gate. We asked him what was up and he looked even more confused than before, and said, that doesn’t look like the right gate. Worried now, we helped him get in again, and turned out that the gate he was looking for was a mere metres from where we’d picked him up. Close to the turning we were supposed to take. He’d mentioned corner, and we’d assumed corner of the road we were on. Since then, I’ve been a bit wary of helping old people especially. They’re not the clearest when articulating what they want sometimes.
Last Wednesday, I saw him again. This time, his cart was overflowing, and he was panting and his toothpick sized legs were really struggling. If he’d moved feet earlier, this time, he was moving inches. He had hardly come up 1/3rd the bridge through three traffic cycles. So, I parked my bike again, and went to help him haul it up. This time, there was no protest from his side. He was obviously too tired and glad to have any help. This time when we reached up and turned left, he gave the happiest wrinkliest smile ever, and told me a “Romba Thanks ma”. I was glad that the decision of my internal discussion was to stop and help him, even though I’d been hungry.
I realized then that it doesn’t matter if it’s their job. Or, if they may not find someone to help them everyday. Maybe God sends us along to help them when they need that extra boost.
Today, on my way to work, on my scooter again, I was crossing a bus stop, when a lady waved me to stop and said “Please drop me at the end of the road” (in Tamil) The road is on my way, and a good 3 km stretch. I stopped, she handed me a plastic bag and requested I keep it in front – I hung in on the little storage holder hooks provided in scooters. When it was time to get off, I gave her the plastic bag back. She opened the plastic bag and asked me to pick one of the little pouches inside. “My daughter is getting married” she said with pure pride and happiness that only parents can express. “These are sweets for that.” She beamed and hurried away. Sputtering out a congratulations, I looked happily at the pouch with three ladoos in my hand. My Monday was made!