In my country, India, more than fifteen percent of the people live below poverty line. As I grew, my life experiences helped me understand how happiness multiplied by lending a helping hand to the needy. In this post, I will share one such experience.
Last summer, I attended a conference with three other friends of mine and it was on that journey I met an important person in my life. It was almost 45 degree Celsius in the afternoon with mouth already dry and my eyes searching for water to quench my thirst. I kept waiting for a train to arrive and the asperity of the hot climate, made me sweat. It was already one O’clock in the afternoon when I found a train heading towards the station. The breeze generated by the speed of the train forced its way amidst crowded platform where people were trying hard to get into the train quickly.
As I walked towards the train, I found a wizened old man who looked impecunious with his clothes torn and looked like a homeless person. This middle-aged man was approaching me in a sluggish manner and I kept an eye on him as I marched towards the train. Just when I was about to get into train he looked at me and begged for some water or food and just like others, I was more concerned about getting into an already crowded train. My mind was preoccupied with thoughts of getting into the conference hall on time and I had no time to listen to him. I ignored his presence and got into the train. Initially, I was little worried but then I was joined by other friends who made me forgot this strange meeting.
Finally, the time had come. We attended the conference and headed back home. I reached my destination at six O’clock in the evening. I stepped down from the train and noticed the same person who I met five hours back. But this time he was quiescent with his legs resting on the floor and what was heartbreaking was to notice him use his wet cloth to rub against the tongue in an attempt to moisten his taste buds and the entire scene was very upsetting to watch. People kept passing by just like how I treated him a few hours back. Everyone is busy with their life and I won’t blame them for ignoring his presence. It was quite imprecating to watch and my feelings cannot be described in words. I was stoned and I had no idea what to do. Later, I found a store nearby and bought a bottle of water and approached towards him. As I went closer, he grabbed that bottle of water and galloped it fully in no time. He did not thank me, but he looked into my eyes after having emptied the bottle. I noticed tears in his eyes and he wanted to say something. I thought I did what he wanted and left the place as quickly as possible.
After this, I started researching on what would put the life of these people in order. We all know that scarcity and poverty are man-made and they make the system we live in more chaotic. Initially, I thought that a huge injection of public funding was needed to put their life in order. But getting to talk with them left a huge impact on me. I then came to the realisation that, poverty is not being deprived of money, it is an emotional state where one begins to rely on others for their well-being. This understanding made me feel guilty for not having listened to that old man. A two-minute conversation would’ve made him happier than the food I offered.
According to me, the economically deprived people develop the habit of observing the world through the lens of painful experiences. Such people need to be counseled and we have to make efforts to help them realise that their suffering is normal and it is a part of everyone’s biography. As social creatures we all want to be loved and so was the man in need. We are born with an enormous need for affection and the poor are isolated by the society. I believe that the old man did not want water from me, all he needed was someone to listen to him. They need someone who can make them feel empowered, not pitied.
Poverty can be reduced or increased just by changing the definition of what it means to be poor. Mental support is what I think the poor need the most but we always understand poverty from a materialistic standpoint. What’s going on in the inner lives of the poor is overlooked. What are they feeling, what they are going through, are not clearly understood. If it were just about lack of wealth, we would’ve eradicated poverty long back. Much more profound understanding is needed.
Let the positive energy reverberate around you and others. Be happy make, keep others happy.