Friday, 25 July 2014

Manners Maketh Man

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

"A funny thing happened on my way to the book store last Sunday. And it got me thinking. About manners. Simple courtesies. Basic etiquette. A code of conduct.

Do we even have a code of conduct? A sense of what is polite and what is outright rude? The definition of good behavior?

I encounter people who make me question my belief in good behavior while I’m out – walking on the street, buying groceries, standing in long queues, travelling in the bus, crossing a heavily congested road. People who are the connoisseurs of pushing and shoving others for no reason. I’m sorry. Is pushing and shoving or being mean to people an activity that requires a reason? I think not. These so-called ‘busy bodies’ have got all the world’s work and burdens loaded on their shoulders. Poor souls. They think that being impolite is justified and is a byproduct of their demanding and hectic lifestyle. They don’t wait to think that the person on the other side is, like them, a victim of challenging times. And just like that empathy goes down the drain.

But there she was! The one who would refute my crumbling belief in the existence good manners. All of 60, draped in a cotton sari, a tiny clutch (not the designer kind but the old school purses I saw my Mom carry ages ago) wedged beneath her arms, and she was making her way just like the rest of the harrowed people on the street. Our paths crossed carelessly. I was looking ahead towards the bookstore with pulsing excitement and she probably had pressing family concerns on her mind when it happened.

She stepped on my toe.

I winced and looked up.

Her reaction to the ‘incident’ shook me. From the inside. It astonished me.

She bent down and started touching my feet, not with reverence, but with sincere atonement. As if I were her child who came home one day hurt with a gash on my foot and it was her onus as a mother to heal it. To make it go away.

She looked up at me with earnest apology radiating from her eyes as she uttered those two words.

“Sorry dikra.”

Endearing. Appealing. Powerful.

I pulled myself out of the emotional limbo her actions had plunged me in. I realized that she was at my feet and immediately bent down wrapping my hands around her arms as I persuaded her to stand up. She did.

I said something about how it was alright and that she didn’t have to do that.

It doesn’t matter what I said.

It mattered what she did.

It resounded.

A buzzing sound reeled in my ears as she left, a smile lighting up her wrinkled countenance."

The above incident which I narrate is true and actually took place a few years ago. I still remember her whenever I come across people who are too ill-mannered to ever notice the other’s feelings or state of mind. There may be some for whom this isn’t a big deal.

‘You come across imbeciles like that every other day, so what?’

At the risk of sounding preachy I would say that it is this attitude that makes it ‘OKAY’ for others to be disrespectful towards us. Just because we’re strangers. Because we don’t know each other. Because it is a passing incident. Because we will forget about it the next day.

She didn’t know me either. I was no one to her particular. But she stopped in her tracks to apologize. Even though she was older than me, wiser than me, she knew better than to stoop down to a stranger’s feet.

It’s amazing how a few seconds can influence you in different ways.

It’s funny how strangers can compel you to think. 



Anita said...

Such a touching real story, Sana.
From what I have learnt, we are to touch the body of the person to whom we have accidentally hurt/stamped/our feet has touched. We say "Vishnu" then-
To acknowledge the God in the other person whom we have harmed...
I do this as I have been taught.

May we all be sensitive and treat everyone with respect.

The Wanderer said...

Thank you Anita for appreciating what I wrote.
And thank you for revealing the significance of her actions.
Now the lady occupies an even more elevated space in my psyche...

Viyoma said...

Very surprising gesture from the lady, and how much we tend to judge people by their appearance or accessories. I remember during one of my elocution sessions in school, i had spoken about Good Manners. My Mom scripted the speech for me... Revering that i recall every word of that speech even today.
Thanks for sharing this on WOW platform.

Post a Comment