India is one of the countries that still has a lot of heterogeneity. While one would feel proud of many of these heterogeneous aspects, some of them hurt - sometimes very deeply. Yesterday was one such day, where I was watching something without the ability to fix things.
At first sight, it appeared to be a pleasant thing to watch - a small girl was in a roadside henna shop and getting her forearms, wrists and palms painted. She was all smiles. I was watching her from my car stuck in traffic jam. It was so cute to watch her getting excited about the design emerging in front of her eyes. Her already large eyes kept widening and her smile kept broadening getting more beautiful! I even felt, her eyes may just pop out of her face any time! A couple of girls approached the shop, eagerly looking at the little girl, she too showed her hand with a lot of happiness and pride. All three of them were smiling! Smiles are contagious… I was smiling inside the car. The traffic cleared in about 2 minutes. When all vehicles started moving, it happened… the watchman who came from nowhere chased away the two other girls. That is when I realised, he was able recognize some details that I and the other little girl failed to. The two girls are poor, not dressed properly. They probably are from the lowest strata of the society
By the time my brain took the shock, processed the details left out, I had crossed hundred meters or so. I don’t know how the girls felt, I was so upset sitting in a racing car, surrounded by other racing cars and bikes. My driver was puzzled to hear me screaming 'stop the car' but he managed to pull the car to the side in a few hundred meters. I wanted to get down, go pay for the henna work for the two other girls to keep them smiling. Only when I was about to get down, my rational brain started working - I have crossed quite a distance, I will take another 15 minutes to reach the shop if I walk back and if I turned the car around I will take about 30 mins because the next U turn is further down the road. The girls would have gone very far in the opposite direction by that time. Even if I locate them, they are not going to trust me as I am a total stranger. After all, henna is not their highest priority in life. In spite of these thoughts trying to stop me from action, I opened the door only to be stopped by the driver stating it is no parking area and we are creating more traffic behind us; he advised me not to get down unless it is a life threatening need! All cars behind were honking as if all of them are yelling at me!! I asked him to move forward but my mind stayed back at that moment!
I was thinking of my protected childhood and how I was pampered. I remembered the day when my dad went and bought a dress late in the night (around 11 pm) just because I wanted it - I did not even demand it immediately; I JUST wanted it at some point in time in future. But it was made available on the very same day. But these two children were not even able to watch henna being done for someone else. Why is life so hard for some people? Is it their fault that they are born in their respective families, instead of mine? Is it "Karma"? Is it really "Karma"? What are they to learn from this incident? What is the first girl to learn, will she ever be able to do henna without thinking of this incident in her entire life? How about the other two children, will they ever interact with others freely? If it is Karma playing all this, what kind of Karma is the watchman acquiring? He was the root cause for my driver to skip a heartbeat by my screams and was the reason behind another traffic jam - more importantly - he removed smiles from four people instantly and pushed us into a state of shock. But he is only doing his job! he is paid to do this work after all!
What is my role in this? Is it only writing these emotional articles? If I can't act, do I even have the right to comment about the inequalities? Should I drop everything else and work on projects focused on this problem? Or, such a project will get into my never ending list of "to-do"? Is it my "Shelly"self picking up another seashell enroute? What is the reaction of the "Lean Coach" in me who is obsessed with limiting the work in progress? What is the reaction of the researcher in me who wants to make people stick to their long term goals without getting distracted easily?
I am caught in the middle of conflicting thoughts again!