Something to never forget

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July 26th 2007
Published: August 5th 2007
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My last day in India, yet also my first; for on my last day in India, I remembered what I should have never forgotten...

Perhaps I wasn't prepared for him like I had been at other times. Perhaps he caught me off guard. Perhaps he blew the tyre of my racing mind. Perhaps it was the heat. Perhaps it was my emotions running wild hours before I was to board the plane back home. Perhaps I didn't expect to see him in this rich shopping enclave of Delhi... Perhaps it doesn't matter.

Fact is, he threw me further than any baseball. He dropped me flat in my own pie. He left me feeling so ridiculous and shamed that I was bursting at the seams - I felt like I was about to explode in every emotion I had ever felt.

We walked past him on the street, but it wasn't until we stopped to get a cold drink nearby that I found myself staring at him. My eyes were glued to him, my body motionless. If Gordon asked me anything, I did not hear it. If someone stole my bag, I did not notice it. In that moment, I didn't feel the heat, I didn't cough from the pollution. I just stood there...

He lay partially curled up on the thin strip of dirt in the middle of the street. His bare back was arched forward so that his heavy head nearly touched his feet. The skin on his arms and shoulders had peeled off, leaving festering open wounds. The flies lingered like crows around a dead lamb. In his right hand, he clung to a small tin jar which he rattled slowly, slowly, asking for a pitance. The strength to do so had nearly left him.

I could not see his eyes or face. At one stage, he tried to lift himself somewhat, but beyond a couple of inches he slumped back down to the ground. He fell silent for a minute, than began to slowly rattle his tin again, slowly, slowly.

I could hear the coins clinking in my ears; the sound was piercing, shrill, unrelenting. What was he to do with coins? What is a man to do with all the coins in the world if he cannot drag himself off the filthy ground to spend them?

I thought of my sick grandmother at home, of all the things we try to do for her to make her last years more comfortable, less lonely. I looked at the old man - where are his grandchildren? Where is his family? Where is someone to take care of him in his last years, to dress his wounds, to give him love? But I could not see anyone through my tear-filled eyes; only the dry dirt around him and his tin cup, rattling slowly, slowly.

I cried a long time for him; not just physical tears - my soul weeped. I weeped because I know there is enough love to go around, enough for him too, yet he sits alone. We have every material thing we could possibly want in our lives. We can build bridges and towers, great mosques and temples to give thanks to our Gods. Yet we walk past this old man. Some of us will throw a coin, others will just close their eyes. But who will have the courage to lend him a hand, to lift him up off the ground, to give him hope? Such a simple feat; love is priceless, it doesn't cost anything. So why do we give it so stringently?

Give more, I say. To everyone.



28th July 2007

The old man
I also cry tears for the old man, for the millions of suffering old men ,women, children and ...for humanity. It hits home and one is speechless.Thanks for opening our eyes, at least for a moment, Maria. But then, everyone can help someone in everyday life, and one does not have to go to foreign countries, help is needed everywhere and sadness and despair has different faces...
29th July 2007

Tears for the old man
Hi Maria, you took me by surprise, how sad. Your wrote his story brilliantly.
1st August 2007

your last blog....very intense and very beautifully written. You appealed to the readers to have the courage to give him a helping hand. Did you do it? just curious. And even if you didnt its okay cause I wouldnt have had the courage to do it and I feel sick of myself when I say that. I am sure that India must have been an awesome experience for you and I am sure that it has left you quite moved. I hope that India has now given you a better understanding about yourself and I am sure that so many things that were extremely important to you before visiting India have become less important. I am very happy that you are one of the very few persons who have been able to appreciate India in the way it should be and I hope that this India experience has given you wisdom, knowledge and a sense of well being. Bye and best of luck in your future travels.
28th February 2008

The goosebumps and tears well when reading:Something to never forget. Funny how words on a screen can effect many of us all across the world.
28th February 2008

To be able to step outside your own personal bias and comforts provides the most honest picture for those of us that are stuck in the more mundane. Mazz has a beautiful way of doing so.
28th February 2008

Being an avid follower of the blogs on this site, it really is hard to pick a favourite article for the contest. However, I'd higly recommend the writings of 'Me in the Monsoons', particularly the latest blog entitled 'Something never to forget' diary=186339 The basis of her observations of the beggar man are universal and can be seen not only in India, but in our very own backyards.. We are all capable of giving and receiving love, of stretching out an open hand to those in need, so why does it remain so scarce? Love is free, powerful, uplifting; yet it seems to have become a conditional commodity based on a "give and take" rationale. Not only are Maria's blogs informative and insightful, they also subconsiously force you to think outside the square and have truly changed my perceptions of the world, its people and places for the better. Her posts also provide a welcome relief from mediocratic work and feed my inner travel bug... A must have in any "Best of" collection..

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