November 24, 2010 1 Comment
The two friends had traveled many a mile, seen many a face and passed many a place. But this day was different.
The couple sitting in front of them was destitute. They were helpless. They were impoverished. And all about them showed that they were hungry – for recognition as human beings, for love as fellow human beings.
The night was cold. The travelers, as was their wont, had no place to stay. Searching for a place to lodge for the night, they had come across the dilapidated remains of a small hut. The couple who lived there were warm in their hearts, but their hands were cold. Their home was warm, but their hut was cold. They had been thrown out of work for speaking out against the establishment. Erstwhile acquaintances could not help them monetarily. As happens in society, poverty robbed them of voice and relatives. In the eyes of others, they had ceased to exist.
The cold was biting, and yet the couple did not have as much as a blanket between them. The travelers, accustomed to expecting hospitality and help from strangers, faced a new preposition. They did not hesitate. Of the two blankets they had between them, they handed over one to the couple. That night, the couple went to sleep with a blanket over them for the first time in months. That night, the travelers went to sleep with just one blanket between them for the first time in months.
The night was cold, and neither blanket could prevent either of the pairs from feeling the chill of the night air. Yet, the act of brotherhood kept them warm. The night felt cold, but it did pass. The travelers had a revelation that night – they were part of a larger family. They felt an empathy towards the suffering couple and a hatred towards those who had reduced them to such a state.
That very night far far away, another traveler looking for a place to lodge for the night, had come across another destitute couple. The traveler had two blankets. The couple did not have even one. The cold was such that even two blankets would not have been enough to cover oneself. So, the traveler decided to keep both blankets to himself.
That night was particularly cold. The couple shivered in their sleep, but they survived. But the traveler died, not of cold, but of excessive heat.