A palm tapped on my shoulder twice while I was in the train. There was nobody else in the compartment. She looked sad, actually, depressed. She was uncertain about where she was going, where she had come from and what she was doing. Blank and expressionless, her pale face had some questions. She had a lot of queries to be asked. Her eyes, which were probably wishing not to cry anymore, were dried up but still held a lot to complaints. Her tears came up to the edge of her eyes and then decided to turn back. Maybe she wanted to show the world how strong she was. Her appearance was rather weak. She looked like a flower which has broken off, taken away from the plant, is sold into the market, and then thrown somewhere after it is used.
Her dress - including a patched T-shirt, a filthy denim, and a stole - which wasn’t even complementing, it showed how done she was with life. It showed how long she has been suffering. With a hopeful face, she approached me and asked, “Can I ask you for ten bucks, please?”
Many questions crossed my mind within a fraction of second. A passenger travelling in the first class compartment would never fall short of money. How do I even trust her? What if asking for money was just an excuse but her actual intentions were something beyond my thinking. What if she wanted to harm me in any way? Is she really needy? Why is she doing this? What is she so stressed about? She looks well educated and well brought up, then why would she even need to ask for 10 rupees from a stranger?
“I need to catch a bus from the station and go somewhere urgently.” She added. I agreed on giving her the money and further questioned, “Are you okay?” “No, I’m not. “ she said. “You’ve no idea of what all I’ve been going through.” With a lot of curiosity and shock, and a feeling of empathy for her, I exclaimed, “Listen, whatever it is, it’ll all be fine soon. Things aren’t meant to go wrong for a very long time. It’ll all be okay. Okay?” Trying to gather a lot of courage with tiny droplets of tears falling off her eyes, she said, “I wish it does. I really wish all goes well soon. “
With an intention to help her and a huge curiosity to know what’s has gone wrong with her life, I asked whether she wanted to talk about something. Without even thinking once, she instantly replied, “Yes! I want to talk about a lot of things. There’s a lot to speak about.” “Can we talk then?” Said I.
“No. That’s fine. I don’t want to bother you anymore.” she said “Don’t worry, that’s really fine. I would love to talk to you.” said I.
“Alright then. Please talk. Let’s sit somewhere and talk about it” she said.
Tears rolling down her face, unable to speak, she held my palm tightly, as if she had just been waiting for someone to let it all out. We got down the train and she was still crying. She went on weeping until she was unable to breathe. Trying to catch a breath, she hugged me. She held me tight into her arms and started crying again. “Life is really unfair.” She complained.
“It Isn’t supposed to remain forever” I consoled. “I wish that could happen”. I had never held a stranger in my arms. I had never allowed an unknown heart hug me so tight and cry for minutes. She just couldn’t stop crying. She went on and on. She was stronger than before, after she left my arms. Braver than before, after I wiped her tears. She held my palm tight and said, “Thank you!”
An ocean of her tears on my shoulders and a storm in her eyes; my heart went on getting curious and heavy the very second she shed tears. And hers, maybe it got lighter and lighter.
Ignoring her thanks, I looked into her eyes and asked, “Do you wish to talk about it? Do you want to share something?”
No sooner did she start speaking up, she stopped. She said, “No. I can’t! I hope you understand. I just won’t be able to let it all out. You just lend me some money and I shall not bother you anymore.”
I handed her a currency and decided to leave. After I reached a few meters away, she came running towards me only to express gratitude and hug me again. She thanked me in all the possible ways, gave me good wishes and left again. I remember, before leaving, she made a statement, she said," you’re a good person. I wish all the good happens to you.”
Isn’t it worth contributing a bit to help someone give a bit of relief? At least to the extent that the person feels brave enough to fight all his/her battles with courage and optimism. No doubt all of us are occupied with our own problems, but we never know what the person next to us is going through. Maybe our own pain is very very less compared to the next person. There’ll always be someone who would be feeling more pain than us. In fact, none of us can ever understand the intensity of each other’s pain and suffering. We can never feel somebody else’s pain.
In the world full of agonies, thronged with pain and suffering, overtaken by grief, can’t we all be one another’s source of relief, can’t we just stay with each other so that none of us feel lonely in the dark room of sorrows. Even if we don’t know each other’s problems, can we just not be there? Just stay and comfort the person in need of a shoulder to cry upon? All of us cannot be the ones guiding them towards the right direction, it’s okay. It’s alright not being able to do so. Not all of us can suggest them ways to come out of things or listen to their stories or lead their ways. But instead of being the light or the ear or the tongue talking and consoling them, why not some of us be the shoulders? Why not be those helping hands, holding which they climb the ladder of hope, faith and courage.
Can’t we just listen to them, be the shoulders to their tears, be a source which doesn’t console but comfort them saying “No matter how much things are going wrong, it’ll be fine someday. There’ll soon be rise of a bright sun which will surely be worth fighting for, throughout the darkest of the nights. Everything will be alright and you’ll be proud of yourself for fighting through all of it. "
- Hafsah Faquih (Stringent Bard)