Is life really so bad?

{Author’s Notes: This was my first blog post ever. I wrote in on my birthday, 9 years ago. In fact, it was this particular incident that prompted me to start a blog. Updated it on October 28, 2015}

There was this one thing I wanted to write down somewhere for a very long time. Never found the time and the place. Trying it now…

In the first few months of living in Pune, I traveled to work using public transport. My bus always passed over the bridge connecting Pune Station and Sohrab Hall. It was a pretty narrow bridge, especially because of all the street bumpkins, tramps, and beggars living on its footpaths, on either side.
It was just another normal day and I was looking out of the window, hoping that the traffic would move along faster, when I happened to notice this absolutely destitute girl, 5 to 6 years of age. Another girl, a little younger than her (who I assumed was her sister), was tugging at her. It was a very sunny morning, and both the girls were seething in the heat. The elder sister held very tightly in her hands, something that the younger sister badly wanted. She screamed, she cried, she chased; the elder sister resisted, ran, dodged, even hit back; but finally gave in, and dropped what was in her hand on the ground.
The younger one scooped it happily, stopped crying at once, and merrily went about playing with it.

At first, I hadn’t seen what this object of contention was.  I had thought it would be food or a toy, or something like that.
Only when it was dropped on the ground, did I get a glimpse of it. I will not ask you to guess what it was, for I myself wouldn’t have been able to guess it, not even in my wildest dreams!

It was a broken plastic doll’s head, with all her golden hair still intact.

For a moment, I was stunned, speechless. For a long time after that, I could hardly speak. I kept thinking about the whole episode for quite a few days after that.

It was such an inconspicuous incident, if you look at it. If I had looked out of the window a minute later, I might have missed it. But somehow, it had a strong effect on me. I mean, the fact that something that we would discard just as easily as dirt meant a lot to someone; that they could fight over it; could cry, scream, snatch for it; they could be crazy with joy after they finally laid their hands on it -this whole idea seemed very ironic, satirical, and so dramatic to me!

Before witnessing that, I always thought that occurrence of such dramatic incidents was the sole copyright of Ekta Kapoor type TV serials or movies. That they also occur in real life, and are much deeper, was a revelation for me. It forced me to think how miserable life is; and how lucky we are, not to be subjected to such a life. Happiness is such a relative thing , I realized then.

But however positively I tried to look at the situation, I just couldn’t bring myself to forget the sight of the doll’s head falling on the ground and the child’s face beaming with joy. I still cannot actually. But soon something else happened, that helped me reinstate my belief about the goodness of life.
What was it?  We shall see that in my next blog post! https://amruta.wordpress.com/2006/11/01/nothere-are-surely-rays-of-hope/