Thursday, April 29, 2010

Help! It Doesnt Help!

Of late, I’ve been wondering why it is so difficult being good. And why it is so difficult to survive in this world, if you’re good. I’ve recently learnt from some of my close colleagues at work and in my social circle, that I have a general impression on people as a “really sweet and good girl”. Now, why? I couldn’t help wonder. Because I do not put in too much of a thought when helping someone, to the extent of being labelled as gullible by many. Because I have been taught to love people first before I judge them, if at all I must judge them. Because I know not the ways of the corporate world, and seem to be the most accessible person, when it comes to getting drawn into office politics and resolving them. Because I always carry an extra napkin, an extra tissue, a Polo, toffees, a Paracetamol, a balm, and Hajmola in my bag for anyone who needs them. The question is not of why I do all this. The question is, why everybody raises an eyebrow, at least within, every time you help someone more than twice.

I have learnt from the episodes of my life, that it is difficult to survive in society without letting the social become personal. Perhaps it is also difficult to survive in this world if you let the social become personal. The latter is true because there is a circle, an aura around you, a shield, that you guard and protect yourself with, diligently. Everything that happens beyond the shield is external to you, and you therefore, gradually learn to not let anyone or anything go too deep within. It might lead to a certain level of insensitivity. But it obviously comes with maturity. And therefore cannot really be called insensitivity. The former is perhaps slightly more technical, and important too. When you let the social become personal, either you become too involved with the social. Or, you learn to just love unconditionally, yet retain the shield.

Last month I found a kitten stranded in my office compound. When I took it out of the carton in which the sweeper had put it in order to dispose it off, I did a slightly exaggerated emotional outburst (that sometimes comes to me naturally :))). To call it a regular cute lil kitten would be an insult to mere admiration, for it was indeed the cutest living thing I had ever seen in my life. I can say that confidently as I have had six generations of cats in my house, and therefore have handled kittens before. But had never seen the likes of little Mimi, as I called it. Well, the story here is not of Mimi (how much do I digress!), but of the drama that preceded my act of bringing Mimi home. I could never understand how the sweeper could be cruel enough to let the little kitten free somewhere outside our office. Our office is located in this no-mans-land where actually no-men-live. The only species you would find are dirty dusty labourers and hard(ly-)working, robot-like, heartless, pretentious, spineless bosses. When I decided to take the kitten home, I was flooded with compliments about what a big heart I have and how sweet I am and how unassumingly helpful I am!! Someone even came and told me I am ‘unconventionally helpful’, whatever that means!!! I was taken aback at why the whole thing had actually snowballed into an issue concerning an act of sympathy that deserves a reward!. Why is it that my act of helping was being seen as something unnatural? Won’t anyone’s heart melt when they see a helpless little kitten stranded?

Perhaps it is not really an issue. Perhaps they were just acknowledging my good deed for the day. But I did wonder why no one else was really volunteering to help. I had to choose to not take the office bus that day, and resort to an autorickshaw and spend 100 bucks, simply because one of my colleagues was terrified of cats. I never felt even for a moment that what I had done was an astounding act of kindness or something. But it did make me wonder why it is a big deal to help someone in distress nowadays. Have we become so involved in our own lives and problems, that we have become blind to the pain of our neighbour who has just lost a loved one or had a surgery? Or do we just choose to not believe that something similar can happen to us too. That someday, perhaps we might just need that help that we had once offered or ignored someone. I do not suggest that we should expect reciprocation when we help someone, but to just feel the pain of the man sitting next to us, instead of viewing it as a mere fact. Perhaps, making the social become personal sometimes can go a long way and bring a smile to someone’s face. If not in any other way, it does help to bring a smile on your own face. And that makes a world of a difference.