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Something affected me a lot the other morning as I rushed onto the train. I could not believe my luck when I saw an empty seat! As I settled in it, though, I realized why it had been empty: A blind girl was standing opposite the seat. No one wanted to take that seat, but no one informed the blind girl that it was available.

I felt uncomfortable sitting there. As the train moved, the girl almost lost her balance. She had a bad cold and looked very uncomfortable. Finally I spoke to her and led her to the seat. I wondered why no one else had volunteered. Did they feel they would make the girl feel handicapped? Did they just want someone else to do it? A train full of people and no one moved.

I thought of how gauche and loud we Indians are compared with the ever-polite, composed Japanese, and how I have nearly lost my cool when one more person without reservation sat next to me in India, saying “We will manage, no? Space should be in our hearts!” Indeed, we should have space within our hearts, be a little more warm, reach out a little more even if it means breaking the carefully laid down protocol.

charu gupta

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