Sunday, 11 August 2013

Everyone Has A Conscience

I am not your usual Good Samaritan. I don't spare change to the beggars on the road, I don't leave tips for waiters (especially if the service is rotten), and I certainly don't have much regard for traffic rules (then again, who does?). It's probably a good thing that I am under eighteen and don't have a vehicle of my own.

The day ended in the typical fashion- exhaustion. It was nearly seven in the evening and I was itching to get back home so that I could take a bath and hit the bed. 

The pavement was as crowded as the road beside it. Armed with many 'Excuse Me's and an overtaking skill that would have put the stunt drivers of the Fast and Furious franchise to shame, I strode to the bus stop. The pavement was filled with people from all walks of life. Students, housewives, oldies, office workers. On top of that, illegal vendors also made their territory on the concrete. A fruit seller was unloading his wares onto a tall platform from a box. As he did, a few of his pears fell down and rolled to the side.

I was irritated, naturally. The pears were a potential tripping hazard. Or rather, a rolling hazard. A harmless fruit as that could cause a human pile-up. Okay, maybe nothing as drastic as that, nevertheless, being a fruit-lover, I didn't want to see them getting squashed under the feet of pedestrians.

Conscience kicking in, I stooped down and picked up the pears, one-by-one, and tossed them back into the basket. The vendor protested at first, not in a bad way, though. He thanked me profusely. I gave him a tight smile, thinking all the while that he could have shown his appreciation by offering a free pear or two.

I got up on a bus. There were no seats available, of course, and the bus was filled with people, making it a semi-sauna. I grabbed the handrail above my head with both the hands and listening to music, praying the traffic would be merciful. Well, it wasn't.

Something hit my foot. Squinting in the dim, I saw it was a folded-up, crispy fifty-rupee note. Ah. While it wasn't exactly a princely sum, it could still fetch me two plates of Momos. Or five packets of potato chips. Or a really nice bar of chocolate. No one had seen it, yet; all I had to do was place my foot quietly over it and haul it towards me. And when I would pick it up, anyone who'd see me would assume it belonged to me.

I looked around for its owner. She was teenager like me, a college student probably. She was wiping the perspiration off her face with a handkerchief. The note probably fell out when she pulled the 'kerchief from her pocket. I sighed inwardly. On one hand, the temptation of hot, steaming dumplings was doing the dance of the devil in my mind. On the other hand, seeing as she was a student like me, it was possible that she, too, had to spend days being cautious about spending. Fifty wasn't a very big amount. But I very well knew the despair of losing money myself.

Before anyone else could spot it, I picked it up. She still hadn't noticed me. I tapped her arm with the note. She turned to look at me and I held it up. Her eyes went wide as she patted her pocket. "Thanks," she took it. The look on her face made me feel good. 

Feeling like a smug Mahatma Gandhi, I made the rest of the way home quite uneventfully.

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