Compassion brings us to a stop, and for a moment we rise above ourselves wrote Mason Cooley. The recent appalling incident of total and shocking indifference that seemingly shook the nation brought to light the distressing lack of compassion that permeates our social fabric. The sight of the bleeding policeman begging for help may have disturbed us but would it lead us to act were we ever placed in a similar position is the question that begs to be asked.
This incident brought back to memory another incident that occurred 5 years back. One morning I was informed by one of our staff of the presence of a young man who had been lying in the area and seemed hurt. When I went to the spot I found Babloo Mandal, a man in his twenties writhing in pain. He had a huge maggot infested wound on his leg and he cried for help in agony. It seemed he had been hurt in an accident some time back and had been left there, perhaps by the driver of the car that hot him. This was a Monday morning and I discovered with horror that the man had been lying there since late Saturday night. This was a crowded area with flats and shops and people passing regularly but NO ONE had extended the boy any help. His words seemed incoherent but if you bothered to stop and listen he was simply begging for someone to save his life. The stench of his wound was vile and people simply walked by hurriedly.
I also discovered with renewed horror that the police had been called the previous night but had refused to take him to a hospital. We decided to spring int action and while we set about calling the cops one of my staff went to him and held his hand and told him that help was one the way. We realised that Babloo was simple minded and mentally challenged. The cops did eventually turn up but no one was willing to pick him up, so I sent two of our teachers with them. I thought that we had the matters in hand but I was son to discover how wrong I was.
An hour or so later I got a call from the hospital saying that the doctors refused to attend to him and had handed some disinfectant and cotton to my teachers. Babloo was left on a stretcher outside the emergency hall. Enough was enough. I called a friend from the press and set out for the hospital. My journo friend reached the hospital a camera man in tow at the same timer as I did and a pictures were clicked before the authorities realised what had happened. Soon we were swarmed by security personnel and hospital staff. Babloo Mandal was finally taken into the emergency room but there too, no one was willing to cut off his shorts. It was again a pwhy staff who went and got a blade and did the needful. His wound was cleaned and dressed and we waited hoping the hospital would admit him. But that was not to be. The hospital staff told us tersely to take him away.
A few phone calls were made and we found an NGO that had a shelter with medical staff and were willing to take him. Babloo was finally taken to the shelter and then moved to a private hospital that took care of him. And though gangrene has set in, the doctors managed to save his leg. In the meantime, based on the few details he could give us, we managed to trace his family and after a few weeks Babloo was reunited with those he loved.
I had forgotten about this incident but the sight of the policeman begging for help brought back memories of Babloo Mandal. At that time what we did what was to us the obvious option and nothing out of the ordinary. True everyone else's behaviour had upset us, but somehow we never found it necessary to delve upon the matter. I was just another day at project why. But today somehow many questions that should have been asked years back come to mind. Is compassion such rare quality? How can people watch and let someone die? Why did no one go near the bleeding man and at least reassure him? How does one teach another to be compassionate? Why don't we stop and rise above ourselves when needed?
I do not have the answers. All I know is that I will stop each and every time it is needed.