In our daily lives on our way to work, on the streets, in crowded buses and trains we come across many people whom we have neither met in the past nor do we intend to meet again . A trembling pair of hands holding a bunch of flowers, gently tapping the window screen of your car; the blind man with the long beard wearing an oil stained, dirty, shirt over a pair of tattered trousers, desperately trying to bellow and tap the keys of a harmonium hung over his shoulders as he croons a song; his small son of five years holding his father’s hand with one hand and a can in another, which he deliberately rattles before the passengers.
The cobbler with his droopy face, hammering the last nail on a pair of shoes or the rickshaw puller beckoning the man returning from the market; fails to register in our minds except for the bargain we strike with them. We wonder at the dexterity with which the credit card seller tries to convince us with the best offers, stalking us at the mall. The vendor pledging his vegetables to be garden-fresh, the fishmonger announcing the best bargain for a one and half kilo of the prized catch, the barber at the saloon overdoing the lather on your face with the radio blaring annoyingly behind; the list is endless.
These are the insignificant people whose paths cross ours regularly and whom we try to ward off as soon as our job is done or relentlessly avoid not to get their job done. We return home, to our families heaving a sigh of relief; blotting every one of them from our memory till we wake up to the morning newspaper reporting a bus trampling a man, shopkeepers burnt to death in a ravaging fire and click our tongues in sympathy. We identify, though for few moments, these people with ourselves. We realize that even these men had families, had children; even they had been fighting throughout their lives to make their ends meet; even they had stories like us.
By Abhik Dasgupta