Empathy: The distinguishing trait of humans.

Some days I choose to cut all distractions while travelling. On those days I simply pay attention to all the things that surround me, the people and more importantly those little things which pass me by when am too busy with my phone.

It was just another day. While going to work, I reached the station for my normal train. The train had already arrived. I went to the door which had absolutely no crowd and then realized that there was some crap there, so naturally I moved to the other door. More people started coming in. Of course they weren’t paying enough attention to wonder why there was no crowd already. But they noticed something which I hadn’t.

They noticed there was a reason, why there was crap in the train. The reason, the person, was a man lying unconscious on the other side of a ladies compartment. Women, being women started talking about it. And once someone focuses on one topic, it seems as if by common consensus everyone will talk about the same issue.

The police officers where called to remove the man from the compartment. Other people were called to clear the place out. But the entire time, my focus was on that man who was being talked about but who no one really cared about.

He was very unceremoniously thrown out from the train while everybody looked down upon him and gave him dirty looks.

Allow me to paint a picture for you.

That man was lying in the train in his own shit. And when he walked? There was more dripping out of his pants. His one leg was injured and he had no shoes on his feet.

Now let me pose a question for you. How do you feel when some bird shits on you? Or when someone spatters muck on you during the rains while walking?

Now imagine yourself in the man’s position. No one asked him who he was, where he was from, whether he needed anything. They only stared at him while he limped by.

When I saw this, I couldnt take it. I got off the train and bought 2 bottles of water and gave it to the man so he could wash himself. I told him to wait in one spot once he was done and if needed anything to eat. He said he hadn’t eaten for a few days and would be happy with anything. I went, hunting for a clothes shop so that I could replace his clothes but to no vail. It was too early in the morning and no shops were open yet. I got him something to eat and asked him if he would be there at the station in the evening. He said he would. I promised him I would be back & that I would get him clothes. And he said this to me,

” Thank you for whatever you have done so far. In today’s world no one even looks at people like me, let alone help as much as you did. Ill pray for you and your success. I wish I could make you meet my mother & sister. They look after me the same way you did. Thank you again”

At the end of that conversation, I was in tears and my heart bleed, for all those less priviliged than me. I promised him ill be back in the evening and left for work.

The entire day, I couldn’t settle down, couldn’t get that man out of my mind. Couldn’t get the thought out of my head that its only a matter of luck, which family we are born to. That its only fate, which circumstances we are born to. There is nothing to be vain about. In fact it becomes our responsibility to help those people who are helpless, who deserve better.

Its important to imagine ourselves into the lives of others. Empathy is what differentiates us from the other species and what helps us learn from other people’s experiences without having to go through them ourselves.

Those words we speak, those people we judge, all have stories. It is easy to forget to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes but that’s what we must do.

I found that man in the evening. I gave him the clothes and we did not say a word to each other.

I never saw him again, but he changed me for a lifetime.

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