Jan 11, 2012


NY Penn Station was so packed this evening. There was live Gospel music going on in the background by a man on His guitar. All seats were taken except a single one which was kind of ignored by all. I took it as I had about 12 minutes wait and didn't feel like standing that long. Also I wanted to sit down and enjoy the music.

When I got comfortable I noticed this frail figure sitting next to me - almost curled up to the lap, like a big ball of laundry or something. From the scarf around the head I could make out it was a lady. "Old. very old. 83? no, older. 93? hmm.. may be a little older. 103? mmm... 203? most like it!" judges my quick mind. No movements in the next few minutes I observed. Absolutely still!

"Is she - ahem - alive?", I begin to worry. No, I can't poke or shake her. I just have to wait and hope she moves before my train comes, lest I will be worried rest of my life.

I start to take some side ward glances. She has a torn handbag on her lap and a water bottle; wearing only a open toe sandal - no proper shoes for the freezing weather outside. My heart skips a beat. Just moments ago I had cursed my shoes as I couldn't feel my toes in my short walk to the station. I feel terrible about her shoes now. Why would she come out in these in this weather? May be this is all she has?! Where is she headed? Does she have anyone? Any one at all?.... Still!

I begin to panic a little. What if??? Oh! Thank God! She just moved. Lifted her head up, with her left hand removed her dentures and curls up again.

I want to do something for her; give her something. But, would she take it or scream at me for "degrading" her or something, alerts my mind. Ignoring that I start to dig through my purse. Right off I find two $20 bills folded away in a side zipper. $20? That's a lot. I should have $5 bills and even some singles I am sure. But then $1 is too little. $5 seems okay. Will it really help her? May be a meal at the most; nothing else. So I settle for the $20.

Now I look around to see if any one is looking - not that I wanted someone to see me give, rather I did not want any one to see me in case she yells back at me. My train is next to be announced and I can't let the minute slip by.

Before long I say "Excuse me" which is not even audible to me. On my next attempt she lifts up her head again with much effort, her dentures still in her hand. I thrush the $20 bill on her hand and say, "A little something". She accepts it and thanks me. A moment later she straightens up hard to look at my face properly and thanks again with the most beautiful toothless smile I have ever seen.

My train has been announced! I rush to get on it with the best feeling money could ever give! Priceless!


anilkurup said...

One of the most poignant experience , I'm sure!

Is it not true that money and knowledge gives the best feel only when that is of use to another.

Y L said...

God bless you dear!

Bikramjit said...

you have a good heart for sure and i am so happy you are my friend ..

maybe some of that goodness will rub on to me ...

God bless


A said...

You are so kind.But don't go by looks. I don't know if I would the same.

Punam said...

You are such a sweetheart and a noble soul. May God bless you with what you are passing on into the world - kindness.

NRIGirl said...

So true @AnilKurup. I agree with you 100%.

Nice to hear from you all. I owe you a phone call Punam; will call one of these days.

But @A! How do we differentiate genuine cases from fake? My take is, what if the person really needs help? what if?

Rachna said...

You are a genuine person, NRIGirl and you see goodness in others. That is a great quality to have!

Irfanuddin said...

yes, its difficult to differentiate the genuine needy out there, so the best thing is to do our part and you did that.....it gives lot of satisfaction.....isn't it.

Tomz said...

A invaluable action..absolutely priceless

Anonymous said...

You did a good thing, there. I would have done the same!

adithyasaravana said...

wonderful.. you kindle all my lost memories.. I thought i could never put them in words.. Because i never used to write anything else except for my exams..maybe i take inspiration from you and narrate one such story.
everyone fine at home..

kavita said...

You did the right thing .I would have done the same H .God Bless !

....Petty Witter said...

Such a kind gesture, here in England we are encouraged to offer to buy something to eat and a hot drink as opposed to giving money as this is often used to purchase drugs or alcohol.

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