There were several vehicles in front of me as I stopped my car when the lights turned red. The busy street in the capital city in South India was packed with office goers on motor bikes, cars, buses, cycles and the three wheelers called auto rickshaws. I drummed my fingers impatiently on the steering wheel and surveyed the medley. It was then that I noticed the frail woman weaving between the cars in front, begging for alms. From my car that was well at the back, I watched as the woman whose back was turned to me moved from car window to car window. Dressed in dirty rags, her brown-black hair, turned dusty orange by the sun, was tied in a matted knot at her nape. She had a baby in a rucksack on her back and her sari was draped over both her shoulders. There were only seconds to go before the traffic lights would turn green and she was still meandering through the stopped cars.
“This stupid woman is going to kill herself and that baby. She should be working instead of begging.” I stood in judgement. “I also have children and I work to support them” I thought. “May be she is not educated. So what?..Can’t she at least find a cleaning job?”
Then I noticed another movement on the kerb. It was a paraplegic on a roller board. He was anxiously watching the woman and his worry for her safety was written all over his face as he nervously rocked on his seat. “Her husband?” I wondered.
I glanced back at the woman. Had I judged her too quickly?…..
Just then the lights turned green, the traffic started moving and the woman hastily made her way to the kerb. I looked back to see if she had made it safely and I realised I had stood in judgement of a woman who struggled with life’s curve balls….. A breeze, or perhaps the airflow with the traffic movement, had dislodged the end of the sari that had been draped over her right shoulder. In the place of an arm, there was a stump…