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  • Chetan Walia

A Thoughtless State




Over the last five days, up on the far end of this beautiful bridge, I went for a walk every day. In the corner of the bridge I saw a homeless person curled up into a dirty blanket. A small cup lay in front of him for passers to put coins. The sight was a pity. You felt sad passing by.


On the fifth day though the guy wasn’t there. The empty blanket lay there by itself. It was held in it’s place with two plastic coke bottles filled with water. It struck me for a moment that such an old trick can be found everywhere across the world. I wondered where the guy would be though.


A couple taking a stroll on the bridge caught me staring mindlessly at this invisible beggar. “You didn’t fall for this one, did you?” said one of them. I learnt then that on weekends this guy goes home so he can be at work for the next five days.


What seems like suffering to a passer by is a normal life for another. Is his life really different from another was the thoughtless state I was in.


As i was walking back I was helplessly observing people. Heres what I saw;


Two extremely well dressed women in awe of their own selves clicking selfies - Begging for attention almost.


A bunch of youngsters, probably just out of a pub, going berserk on the roads screaming in excitement. Laughing madly. Announcing to the world they exist. Bottles still in their hands almost as if to give them significance just like that blanket.


People with bags in their hands walking faster than normal. It’s heavy of course. It’s amazing when you have a challenge at hand (to reach home faster), you are just blinded to everything else. No left, no right. They just walked without looking at anything. Almost a motionless stare like the beggars’.


Then I saw a couple cuddling up and walking. Completely into each other into the joys of a new relationship. They walked past the blanket. Flipped a coin into the empty bowl. Didn’t even notice the beggar wasn’t there.


I could go on describing the number of people I saw. Theres something common in all of them. Perhaps in you too. That everyone was in their own world of ‘drama’ of the moment oblivious to the surrounding. No one paused, saw, paid attention to anything other than their own ‘activity’ of the moment.


The drama will end. They’ll go home this Sunday evening. Get to work over the next five days to live another drama. And then again…


Is there a difference between that person sitting on the bridge with a begging bowl and the rest?


It isn’t dignified what he does but he doesn’t pretend to be alive.


Are we alive really - that is present to life - or are we a lifeless blanket held together by those plastic bottles in the form of meaningless self absorbed experiences. So scared to let the bottles go and live that we settle for our own bowls.

Chetan

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