We are still debating if India is progressing or regressing as a nation with the presence of religious radicals who use the same as a shield to justify racism and misogyny, people who ignore accident victims because they don’t want to get involved and lack empathy. But even though the going is tough, there are those who make you breathe a sigh of relief and restore your faith in humanity.
I remember an incident which involved a young girl, about 15 years old and an elderly lady. The young girl was travelling alone from her tuition class to her house by bus. The time was 7:30 p.m., often described as an ‘unfriendly’ time for women who should be following the socially constructed curfew. I was sitting in the front of the bus with my parents. The bus was crowded and many were standing, holding the top rails and the poles. I noticed that the girl looked worried and her eyes were tearing up. She bit her lips and held her bag with one hand and the pole with the other. Four men, sitting behind, were staring at her lasciviously with a smile that’s been excused as a normal phenomenon by our society and they were making comments, under their breaths, about her. Some could hear what they were saying but since they weren’t making any move towards the girl, people standing around paid no heed.
My mother says that she looked as if she might either burst out into tears or throw up. The distance between them and the girl was close enough to worry her. She could barely move from the place she was standing in as there was a bunch of ladies standing right in front of her. She was looking around but felt helpless. Amidst all this, an elderly lady, about 55 years old, was standing near this girl. She noticed the tears in her eyes and that the men who were visibly enjoying, almost having a kick, from her passivity.
The lady became agitated and she went near the girl. I noticed her saying something to the girl who then nodded her head politely. She stepped forward and the lady stood between the girl and the men. She shielded the girl by placing one hand on a pole and the other hand on top of a seat. She turned around to give those men a narrow, angry look. For once, I saw relief on that girl’s face. She felt safe in that lady’s presence and stood there till the girl reached her stop.
My mother later narrated the incident questioning the lack of action from other men in the bus. But for me, especially today, that move from that elderly lady was effective. It was just a small move but it made a lot of difference. Women stand up for themselves and others. This could also inspire that girl and make her believe that it is essential to see one’s autonomy as her own and to do what is right in the face of adversity. Whenever I think of that incident, I remember that lady as an everyday hero.
When I was 20-years-old, I went to watch an India vs England cricket match here in Kochi. I was watching the match alone and my seat was near police officers who were stationed to control the crowd. While watching the match, I also noticed that the cops were super alert and they barely moved an inch from their place when our players hit a boundary or when they took a wicket. Some of the cops acted instantly when two boys fought with each other in their seats. I remember telling my parents that the police officers did a tremendous job and refused to move from their respective duties for the sake of enjoyments Dedicated police officers have kept the society safe and thus are everyday heroes.
My father is a doctor and I remember an incident involving a mass casualty. Severa seriously injured patients entered the emergency department. They were bleeding, having seizures and were screaming out loud. One of them was bleeding very badly and due to mass casualty, the bandages had run out. A 22-year-old nurse shouted for more and another nurse ran inside for the same. Seeing the haemorrhaging, the nurse covered the wound with her fingers to plug the artery until the other nurse came back with the bandage. The patient was saved but the nurse was scolded by the doctors as her act was threatening to her life. But that move made a difference and her dedication and bravery saved a life.
Months later, my father and I watched the film “Pearl Harbour”. The film showed a similar scene where Kate Beckinsale’s character plugged the artery of a bleeding soldier with her fingers. My father recalled the incident, applauding her. Doctors, nurses and those working in medical fields are hailed as gods and angels as they work on saving lives. It is a matter of faith and trust that urges them to do their work and we trust them with our lives thus the responsibility.
Heroes are those who make an impact in your life with their deeds. They don’t ask for anything in return but it is worth mentioning.