On my way back from the gym, I look around, gazing at people, surprised by ultimate silence inspite of so many cars speeding around. You would rarely hear a driver honk. That is something I love about the USA. “There is absolutely no need to honk your horn” is the rule which has finally turned into attitude.
On one such days , I spotted a guy dropping a bottle at a doorstep. You can really look at a person and make out that he is not having a good day. (If you have the time to observe). As he walked across me, we shared a glance and greeted one another. And the conversation began with how busy we get , trying to make the ends meet. While talking I felt that he doesn’t want to talk about the job, the struggle, kids, bringing them up. But something more eminent , more important is bothering him deep within. And out of nowhere I popped up ” Are you okay?”
This one question took all the burden off his chest. And it flowed through his eyes in a matter of seconds. I didn’t know what to do. How to console a stranger. What to say that can comfort him. So, I did what I would have expected someone else to do in my moment of distress. I let him cry. There was a minute of silence on a busy crosswalk, the only thing noisy were his tears.
And then he told how his girlfriend and now wife of 35 years was cheating on him. All he could do was stand in front of the house that they once shared, and wait for her to come out. Height of helplessness is nothing but this. He cried and cried and from emotional he turned into vengeful. He came with a determination to end the other guy’s life.
I reacted in the most unexpected way. I asked him to go ahead and do it. But added ” Lets discuss the consequences”
Will you get your wife back?
Will life come back to the old bright way?
He went into a long thoughtful silence.
I continued, ” You should actually thank the guy and wish him luck”
And MOVE ON.
The last thing I uttered with utmost care and expression.
He handed the knife to me and was like ” Yes, I have to let go off this”
I offered him food and water and gave him my number, incase he needed a second dose of empathy.
He called me after a couple of hours to thank me for saving his life.
I don’t think I had to work hard on it. None of us has to. It just takes an eye of concern and a moment to spare and listen. We are all so busy in our ambitions and anxiety that we often overlook each other.
My encounter with the man on crosswalk made me realize that comforting each other is the biggest accomplishment. Realization that you can make a difference in someone’s life can help you to understand what you are really capable of doing.
Next time you see a usually chirpy friend silent, do check. Understand the battle and if possible help them get over it. “Are you ok?” is all you have to walk upto.