I had gone to my friend’s home on my way back from office and consequently very, very late to my own home. Lost in thought, and in a bad temper, I barely managed to cross the busy road just missing being hit by an oncoming vehicle. Just as I set foot on the pedestrian path, a young boy came up to me mumbling, “Didi, aapko hindi malum hai kya?” It was quite evident he didn’t believe I might respond to him, such was his despondent manner and that alone prompted to respond, “Haan, kya hai?”
I could have bitten my tongue off; normally I’m the typical ignore-everything-around-you urbanite slashing my way through. My response sparked off a voluble outpouring from the boy’s companion, presumably his father, who was soon joined by a woman and a young girl. They looked quite well-dressed and decent and appeared very reluctant to ask for help, but circumstances seem to have demanded otherwise.
They were stranded in the city as all their belongings had been stolen in the city and they had nowhere to go, no one they knew and no knowledge of the place or the language. During their narrative and tremulous plea for help, I noticed that the young girl was visibly drooping, and the boy was covering his face, not willing to face yet another rejection, I guess. I took out a Rs.100 note, the last one left in my wallet, to offer to them; but this provoked an odd reaction from the man, who asked for Rs.500 and my address and seemed to become a little obstinate when I refused.
I then brushed off their arguments a bit hurriedly, and asked them to get something to eat and asked them to contact some authority for help. I didn’t know what else to do, neither could I imagine any other help I possibly could have offered. I walked off wondering whether to feel content with a good deed done or to lament on being a ‘soft touch’.

I had gone to my friend’s home on my way back from office and consequently very, very late to my own home. Lost in thought, and in a bad temper, I barely managed to cross the busy road, just missing being hit by an oncoming vehicle. Just as I set foot on the pedestrian path, a young boy came up to me mumbling, “Didi, aapko hindi malum hai kya?” It was quite evident he didn’t believe I might respond to him, such was his despondent manner and that alone prompted to respond, “Haan, kya hai?”

I could have bitten my tongue off; normally I’m the typical ignore-everything-around-you urbanite slashing my way through. My response sparked off a voluble outpouring from the boy’s companion, presumably his father, who was soon joined by a woman and a young girl. They looked quite well-dressed and decent and appeared very reluctant to ask for help, but circumstances seem to have demanded otherwise.

They were stranded in the city as all their belongings had been stolen in the city and they had nowhere to go, no one they knew and no knowledge of the place or the language. During their narrative and tremulous plea for help, I noticed that the young girl was visibly drooping, and the boy was covering his face, not willing to face yet another rejection, I guess. I took out a Rs.100 note, the last one left in my wallet, to offer to them; but this provoked an odd reaction from the man, who asked for Rs.500 and my address and seemed to become a little obstinate when I refused.

I then brushed off their arguments a bit hurriedly, and asked them to get something to eat and asked them to contact some authority for help. I didn’t know what else to do, neither could I imagine any other help I possibly could have offered. I walked off wondering whether to feel content with a good deed done or to lament on being a ‘soft touch’.

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