The train screeched to a halt as herds of people alighted and converged from all sides on the only water tap to fill empty water bottles, cans, glasses or whatever good enough to hold some water. It was scorching hot and one had to bear with it while traveling during summer vacations.
Because of the scheduled brief halt , the competition to fetch water became intense as the moments ticked by . And then the things turned sour. A middle aged tough looking man slapped a young boy. It was disgusting to see such blatant display of aggression. Some polite people intervened and the fight ended. But it left a bitter feeling in my mind about that middle aged man.
As the train whistled, he entered our compartment and while moving towards us he stumbled over a piece of baggage lying in the middle. A few people helped him to get up and the man sitting next to me whispered almost in my ears, “He is blind.” The bitter feeling vanished instantly.
After sometime he came over to us and expressed his desire to meet my children whose clamor had attracted him. After polite introductions, when my little daughter, about two years at that time, held his left hand, he took out a colourful balloon with the right from his pocket. He blew it and gifted it to my daughter. My son persisted for one for him and was able to get it. The man was generous and large hearted. I thanked him for the gifts to my little-ones. My heart was filled with compassion for him. But a question had remained unanswered. So I asked ,”Tell me Baba, why did you slap the young boy?” I could clearly notice the pain in his voice as he replied, “Yes, in fact, I didn’t want to do it. But the boy had touched my self-respect by saying – Andha hai kya – and I lost control.” I just looked at him and couldn’t speak anything further.
After a while looking at the blank space he moved ahead and called out, “Any little angels here?” He still had some balloons left in his pocket. And I felt sad over my first impression about him. This is what perception does. We tend to judge things as we see them based on our preconceived notions. But my perception about him had changed with in no time from bitterness to compassion to respect.. Thank God! First impression was not the last impression. I had learnt a lesson.