Death on road attracts only flies.
– Ishita Anand
A man, lying on the side of the road near a bus stop, sprawled on the pavement, his arms and legs in a weird position. It had rained some time before. And you can see dried drops of rain and mud on his face. He is lying so still that you canâ€™t even make out whether or not he is breathing. All you can see is a boy, barely 19, probably dead, with flies all over him.
â€œHeâ€™s been lying like this for the last 3-4 hours!â€? says one man at the bus stop
â€œDid u call the police??â€? asked another man who had just got off his bus and had enquired about the boy.
â€œI donâ€™t think anyone didâ€? is the reply and the man walks off yet again, just like he had done before.
The other man was new to Delhi. He didnâ€™t know what to do, how to contact the police. He stopped three girls on their way home from the college nearby.
â€œBeta, will you call the police? This man has been lying here for a long time and nobody has bothered to inform the policeâ€?
I turned around. I hadnâ€™t noticed the boy. I looked at my friends unable to understand what was happening.
â€œCall the police??â€? I spluttered, â€œ WE? Call the police?â€?
I looked around at the 15 or so men sitting on the bus stop staring at us. I was hesitant, my friends clueless. Should we call? What if we get entangled in something? One of my friends just took out her cell phone and dialled. I stared at her.
â€œAre u sure?â€? was what I conveyed with my eyes.
She still dialled and told the police. They said theyâ€™d send someone to check. My other friend was getting psyched. I could see a series of emotions pass through their eyes â€“ pity, helplessness, and a bit of shock at seeing a dead man.
I on the other hand felt nothing.
I stared back at the 15 people sitting on the bus stop. â€œWhat are you staring at?â€? I wanted to ask them but I didnâ€™t put it into words. None of them had bothered to call the police. They just sat and wondered whether he was dead. A hundred people probably passed by him. And still didnâ€™t bother to do anything about it.
â€œI think we should go.â€? My friend said, â€œ Iâ€™ve told the police. They should be here soon. And if they need us they have my numberâ€?
The truth was we couldnâ€™t just stand there even a minute more. It made us want to look at the boy, hoping that maybe heâ€™d show signs of life. But it was kind of evident that he was dead. Flies donâ€™t scatter around a man sleeping. And the weird arrangement of his legs…
He could be drugged. But then he wouldâ€™ve woken up when it rained. Several thoughts bounced in my brain. All I wanted to think of was getting back home. So I hired the next auto and bid goodbye to my friends, telling them to keep me informed if they heard anything from the police.
On my way back home I started thinking. Do we care about people enough to do something for a boy we donâ€™t even know? It felt nice that we had done the right thing by calling the police. But why did I hesitate? Would everyone hesitate the way I did? I wanted to ask the next person I met,
â€œ What would you do? Would you call the police, or would you get on the next bus and then forget about it”
I guess the fact is that weâ€™re all afraid. Afraid of getting unnecessarily involved. But was this unnecessary? A mother was waiting for her son somewhere, to return back home, probably getting worried. Was it unnecessary? That boy wasnâ€™t just a body. Yet we hadnâ€™t gone near him. Fearing what? That he would explode? People hadnâ€™t called the police. They had just sat there and then got on the next bus, gone back home and forgotten about it. Hell, I hadnâ€™t even noticed him before. WHY?
Weâ€™re taught all our life to be considerate to others. People talk about humanity and making the world a better place to live in. We talk about giving people opportunities. Of giving everyone an equal status. Of helping the aged and the sick. Of charity and goodness.
We just donâ€™t think before supporting these causes. We think that we are sensitized towards the world today. It hurts to see people suffer therefore itâ€™s time to do something about it. Yet, a young boy, probably dead. And no one did anything about it. And walked off without a trace of guilt. It seemed like the right thing to do. To walk off. How is it justified?
It makes me thinkâ€¦Are the to-dos and not-to-dos we are taught all our life actually feasible? They are â€?politically correctâ€?. But are they the right thing to do? Frankly, I donâ€™t know. But I do know that no matter how easy the decision to walk away was, itâ€™s always doing something about it which is the right thing. It feels nice. At least in this case it was so.
If only people before us had realized thatâ€¦
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