Monday, April 5, 2010

The Good Meitei*

A man from Kohima was travelling down to Dimapur to attend to some business affairs. It was soon getting dark when he was stopped by highway robbers near the Patkai Bridge. They seized his Maruti Alto, took all that he had, beat him and left him half dead by the road.
At that time, a pastor was coming back from a Bible camp held at Dimapur. He praised God for the many souls saved, but exhausted after the 4 days of tight speaking engagement, he was more than happy to be travelling back home in Kohima for a well deserved rest. His wife and children will be eagerly waiting with warm water to bathe, and a hearty dinner prepared for him. He saw the man lying by the road side as he looked out of his white Bolero and felt sorry for the poor guy. He thought, “Shouldn’t I stop and take care of him? I need to. But if I do, I have to turn back and take him to a hospital in Dimapur. Since there’s no one with him and if he or his relatives cannot be identified, it will be my responsibility to care for him which may take days. Besides, I’m very exhausted. What if the guy is a bad person, an alcoholic beaten by a mob, or a member of some underground group?” These thoughts flashed through his mind as his driver drove passed the man lying by the road. Within seconds they were far away and the man was forgotten.
Now, a politician was travelling by the same road at that hour. He laid the foundation stone of a new office building at Peren and was returning to Dimapur via Medziphema. He saw the dying man but simply drove away with his team. Not a thing moved in his heart for the man. Election was too far away to show any noble publicity stunt, and he already has a strong public support.
A night bus from Imphal to Guwahati was passing by soon after the politician. Suddenly the bus came to a stop just in front of the man by the highway. Curious passengers looked out at the man and wondered why the bus had stopped. Then they saw a fellow Meitei getting off the bus with his bag and wondered what he is up to. He puzzled everyone by asking the driver and co-passengers to carry on the journey. They questioned what he is going to do, but he simply insisted that they go on ahead. The Meitei approached the wounded man and tried to revive him. He breathed a sigh of relieve to find the man still breathing. He immediately stopped an auto and took him to Zion hospital and cared for him. When the man regained consciousness and gave his name, address and phone numbers, his family members were immediately called from Kohima. The family profusely thanked the Meitei for saving their loved one. It was already too late and the Meitei went to Dimapur town and stayed the night in a hotel. The next morning he caught the first bus and was again on his way to Guwahati.
*The Good Meitei can also be a Tangkhul, a Bru, a Kuki, a Bangladeshi migrant, a Palestinian Widow taking care of a wounded Israeli soldier, or - as in the original parable - a Samaritan.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Something good out of April Fool

The earliest record of April 1 as "April Fools' Day" or "All Fools' Day" goes back to the Canterbury Tales in 1392 although there are different stories as to it's origin. Interestingly there is a view that links it to the Bible. The first day of the Hebrew month corresponds with April; the day Noah sent out his dove too early before the waters receded. April fool can be fun or nasty and disastrous as you read the stories here. But why I say it can be good is because of this: It reminds us by showing us how important trust for one another is. In subtle human interactions of everyday lives, we depend so much on trust. It is not only in occasions of 'under oath' in a court, but we expect people to speak the truth and be sure to a large degree that they are not fooling us. When I was new in Delhi, I ask for directions from strangers. And I expect them to point me in the right direction if they know. When they don't (sometimes they simply give directions confidently even though they don't know), and point me to a wrong place, I get angry. So when we instinctively expect even strangers to be trustworthy to a certain extent, how much more so, those who are close to us. For example, how important it is in a marital relationship, that one is not cheating on the other; in other words, fooling the other. April 1 shows us glimpses of a world where there is no trust: You never know if what your friend is saying is true or not; you can't trust the BBC (they have a notorious history) or the newspapers (see Times of India today's paper). What would the world be like if everyday is April 1 ! Link