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Published in the 1-15 Mar 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Humanity is alive and kicking

Around six years back when my husband was in the terminal stage of lung cancer and undergoing treatment at the Tata Memorial Hospital I was returning by the suburban harbourline one night after spending the whole day at the hospital with him. The train was not very crowded at that hour and I was sitting near a window seat alone. I used to deliberately avoid mixing with strangers then, and that habit has continued since, for the simple reason that personal questions arise soon and bring the sadness back. So I was sitting alone, but indeed the thought of what future held for me and my school going children brought tears in my eyes and to my surprise I did nothing to hold them back, perhaps because I was already tired of holding them back and putting a brave front in front of my husband.

Suddenly I felt a small group of women had gathered around me. It was quite a representation of humanity and various sections of the society. While the two negresses present offered me grapes and promised to reach me home from the station once I explained to them in English the jist of what the other women had understood in Hindi, some women offered their knowledge of herbal medicines and a vendor woman gave me the most striking of all advices as she said, "You`re crying because your husband is dying...look at husband has left me for another woman. I care not only for my children but I also look after the invalid sister of my unfaithful husband. I`m not even educated, but life has to be faced boldly!" Indeed as I got down from the train that night I was relieved to note that humanity was not dead and people cared for fellow human beings.

Zohra Javed, Allahabad

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