Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Image of an oblivious woman

An old lady, probably an octogenarian, squatting on her bare foot, resting against a lamp post, in the fading sunlight of the dusk, was weaving a bamboo basket. Unmindful of the crowd, the hustle and bustle of the market place, there was a sense of priest-like sincerity in her task. Her hand was masterful in handling the rough fibers of split cane, the material used to weave the basket. She seemed to possess such perfection that never warranted her to observe her work. Whenever I saw her eyes, it almost seemed to be lost in oblivion. I could not escape that sight of artless craftswoman working with such high spirit as to ignore all constraints, yet so detached as to avoid indulgence.
In the background stood a tall multi storey glazed shopping mall that vowed to satiate the affluent squanderers. While the edifice was trying to mock at her fragility, the blatant apathy of the fellow brethren who passed by her was like a blasphemy to the common religion of human compassion. Fighting all these odds, her spirit of perseverance was a symbol of indignation against the failure of the much espoused human virtue.
Unconsciously, this sight had a bearing on my mood every time. It had a cathartic effect on me, the reason I longed for it. Her face had effulgence that could only stem from a life of piety and sanctity. She was not begging money or material, but her face had an imploring look. What was she imploring? Mercy? Emancipation?

Life has been about contradictions and conflicts, an idea which I am almost inveigled into. This image only helped strengthen the idea which I did not like, but was almost convinced. While a part of the society embraced modernism (both pros and cons) with stretched arms, here was a woman who fought for her existence even in the twilight of her life.

I was now used to seeing her everyday from the comfort of my seat through a semi-opened tinted window of my bus. One fine day, an incident happened and it shook my conscience. I had left my office a little late that day. So, when I crossed that lamp post where the old lady usually sat, the sodium vapor lamp was brightly shining and it was well past dusk. A young man, whom I presumed to be her grandson helped her get up, which was not unusual. Then, he held her hands and crossed the road just in front of my bus. To my utter dismay and shock, I realized that she had not the power to see the external world. A lightning bolt ran down my spine, I felt like being woken up from a sweet dream and thrown in the open to face the brunt of reality.

Many of us might have witnessed such incidents, but with an education that has been successful in molding a strong saddle that's highly enduring and effective that has also bestowed a blindfold, as if to improve our performance in the perpetual horse race, does it enable us to ask the right question?
While the present system may have made it inexorable to pursue goals of personal acquisition, isn't it perilous to exult the same?