Way back to 1981, I was posted to ‘BINNAGAURI’. Journey from my home station to the place of posting was long, crossing through many Indian states. At ‘BARAUNI’, there was a change of train. It used to be a long halt. This being a reasonably big station, was a suitable place to finish with one’s lunch. Even timings of halt suited the lunch hours. During those days, integrated catering services were not well developed. Outsourcing of food was in vogue at designated stations. Most of the passengers used to order for lunch at this station while travelling on this route.
After having finished our lunch, we kept our empty plates in the corridor to be picked up by the delivery person. Before he could pick up those plates, some small children entered the compartment. Probably they were anxiously waiting for their turn. What they did was heart breaking and exposed many layers of poverty and hunger, as it existed in the country. That is unforgettable.
They picked up plates and started collecting food particles by moving their fingers over the empty plates. Whatever they could collect was just paltry. Their efforts were a testimony to chronic poverty and hunger. Their untiring efforts told a story of deep rooted and untold starvation. These small children and their actions were telling a story which was much larger than what could meet an eye. It was a warning to wake up. For some, it may appear to be a routine as usual. It touched my soul and heart.
Looking at small things through a small prism make us, most often, ignore very visible, large and hidden longer consequences. When one fails to notice others’ pain, it is a recipe of disaster, larger gloom and pain. Way to big things is always through apparently small things and through the vision of others, if they have to last. I am still looking for an answer, even after thirty six years. It is deeply embedded in ‘HOW and WHY’. Layers of insensitivity are unfathomable and endless. Probably, it is the demise of compassion. I continue to look for that eye of a beholder, which ‘KEATS’ defined through his famous poetic expression, “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.”