A Chance encounter with a Stranger
This story begins in a small (mofussil) town in India in the month of November, 2020. This is a predominantly rural area situated on the banks of river Ganga (mighty as well as perennial).
Land is fertile and a variety of crops are grown in abundance due to round-the-year availability of water. Soil is fertile and mango trees are dotting the landscape. Many cash crops, leafy as well as pleasant (to eyes and soul ) vegetables are also grown in large quantity. So, this area is rich in resources but irony is that people inhabiting this fertile soil are poor.
Not all but a vast majority of people can be classified as poor if you include provision of basic amenities and connectivity among the criteria of classifying poor. Yes, I missed the connectivity part. The area at the centre of this story is poorly connected to major cities of India.
You can pluck this town out from map of India and put it in any under-developed or poor countries of Asia/Africa/South America , you get the same picture of strange relationship between people and resources.
Mahatma Gandhi has said that –
“There is enough for everybody’s need and not for everybody’s greed”. So, he literally said that if resources are shared equally, no person would go hungry or thirsty. After all, how much a person need to survive ?
600 grams of Oxygen on daily basis which is provided free by nature & some food/water which is also free but we have become salesman and are selling it since last few centuries.
Does an animal need to purchase food or water in wild ?
There are around 20 Quintillion animals on the earth. In simple terms, 20 billion billion animals are sharing the planet earth with us. To put this number in perspective , now think that only 7.8 billion humans are walking on earth.
May be honestly, not all are walking , large number of people may be crawling , some because they are infants or some because they must not have developed spinal cord due to their submissive behaviour. What is the reason of unequal distribution of resources among people of a same geographical entity ?
Any way, coming back to my story –
02 middle-aged ladies were walking in their neighbourhood in the early evening hours. This was in a tony township colony in midst of rural landscape where few rich people lives.
Weather was pleasant and easterly wind was blowing slowly which had a magical charm to it. The midpoint between ending of autumn season and arrival of winter season brings pleasant weather. The fallen leaves on the black-topped roads were presenting a mesmerising vista. If your stomach is full, such weather can make you a poet.
However, ladies in this case were just enjoying an evening stroll on wind-swept roads and indulging in gossiping. Sometimes, gossiping can be fun and many people play this game round-the-clock.
They were walking in a colony which can virtually be termed as self-sufficient in respect of all basic and advance amenities. Even if, the world outside their colony gates vanished , the inhabitant won’t need to worry about anything for next few years.
Yes, such small townships can be found in large quantities in an unequal society.
It is a tradition in poor countries that rich people always enclose themselves behind big walls. This separation wall has 02 benefits, first one is to block the movement of poor and hostile neighbours towards their cosy space and second one is to block their own view of outside world so that they can live peacefully in their isolated fairyland.
While walking they(ladies) passed through the cluster of neighbourhood shops which sells everything from A to Z items i.e. all conceivable household/kitchen items. A single shop was open and one of the lady suddenly saw an item of her interest dangling from frontage of the shop.
She went to shop and asked for that item. Shopkeeper was a chubby middle-aged friendly man who gave the said item to the lady.
When it was time for paying cash, the lady realized that she was not carrying her money bag. She wanted the item desperately. However , she was reluctant to ask for favours as she wasn’t familiar with shopkeeper. Nevertheless, she told shopkeeper that she will pay for the item tomorrow and shopkeeper obliged by packing her things suitably.
She kept telling him repeatedly the she lives close by and will pay him tomorrow. By now , an undeclared bond had developed between them as shopkeeper told her not to worry about money.
During this short span of few minutes, both were acting as if they knew each other since ages and transaction had become immaterial for them. Lady kept talking about paying money repeatedly and man repeatedly asked her not to think of money.
It is incredible…….how do people form a relationship at the drop of a hat.
Are we humans wired to understand each other ? What compelled shopkeeper to behave in the way he did ?
Complex question …..without a definite answer ?
Both ladies walked off with happiness writ large on their faces.
Chubby shopkeeper was also happy.
Some bystanders who watched this episode also seemed happy by the trust shown by the good shopkeeper. It brought a smile on everyone’s lips.
There was no monetary transaction between individuals but all seemed happy .
Both were stranger before this episode but must have formed a lasting salesman -customer relationship in foreseeable future.
It was getting late and shopkeeper closed his shop and went back to his home ….still a mysterious smile dancing on his lips.
Weather had turned nippy this evening and darkness was about to engulf this small town. Both ladies went to their respective homes singing a folk song happily and got busy in their home and life.
Tomorrow will be a new day.
Sunrise can give rise to many possibilities.
What if they hadn’t met today ?
What if the shop wasn’t open or ladies had decided to stroll in another area of the township ?
What if………………. ?