52 / Humanity

This post was contributed by my brother:


The road was full of buses, cars, taxis and huge colourfully decorated lorries, all with their engines roaring and many with horns blaring to move mooching cows or warn suicidal bikers to get out of the way. At crossing places on this roundabout near Victoria Station in Mumbai, pedestrians were pressed together several deep.

Out of this chaos, from the bank of people on the opposite side of the road to us, emerged a tiny, wizened figure of a man, his white-bearded face no higher that my kneecaps. He had no legs, so his torso ended in a bundle of material which as a pad, helped him balance on a skateboard. Without a glance to left or right, he began what I thought would be a painfully slow journey toward certain death. However, at the crucial moment of no return, a policeman in brown uniform stepped from our pavement, his hand held high, silver whistle clenched between his teeth and suddenly all the traffic stopped. 

Time stood still. 

Not a single person tried to cross as all eyes were riveted upon this old man's heroic progress. He propelled himself, head down with matchstick arms, hands wrapped in material to protect them against wear on the metaled road. He gave no sign of recognition to the kindness of the policeman, nor to a youth who stepped forward to slip money into his shirt pocket. He just kept struggling onward and was soon lost in the crowd.   

© Benóg Brady Bates


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