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BEING HUMAN

Being Human – is one more interesting story I want to share with you dear readers. The day looked pretty lucrative. I already had clocked 6 trips and it was just half time from when I started in my second hand auto rickshaw that day. I wanted to ensure that I complete the target of 12 trips for the shift.  A mid shift where I would usually start at one o’clock in the afternoon and go on till about one o’clock in the night, allowed me freedom to complete a lot of household chores in the morning. I had recently also started going for walks in the neighborhood park so I could be more active throughout the day like a friend of mine had suggested. It was actually working.  ‘Looks like we will have to take a right turn here’. My day thoughts were cut into by the lady passenger who up until now had chosen to limit her conversation to only smiles and eye gestures. I had even wondered if she was dumb and for a minute had actually sympathized with her. Now no longer. 

I dropped my hand outside in a manner to signal out to whosoever was behind my vehicle that I intend to go right. It was a while since the side-lights of the auto were dysfunctional. As I got my auto toward the side of the road, I narrowly missed bumping into a middle aged man. He looked to be holding something tightly in his hand. I immediately looked back to see if he was OK whilst bringing the auto to a grinding halt. My passenger’s face came close to the back of my head. For a moment, I felt I was kissed. But then, I was keener if the man was doing alright. Through my passenger’s protests over rash driving, I looked at the man and he signaled back that he was fine.  I quickly mumbled out an apology to my now furious passenger. I was not sure if she was furious over the controversial kiss that she had accidentally planted at the back of my head or she just hated the part that I ignored her argument. Over cold stares, she paid me the fare and stormed away.  I decided to wait there for my next passenger. I expected the wait to not be more than fifteen minutes. Right enough, I felt a human presence right near to me in the next one minute. As I turned around, I noticed it was the same middle aged man. He had a towel on his head covering half his dark complexioned face. Through his muffled voice, I realized, he wanted to go to the cemetery that was located around ten minutes from where we currently were. It was then that I noticed a tiny little hand popping out of the bundle that he was carrying in his arms.  I motioned my eyes as if to ask him the obvious. He hurriedly covered the hand and looking toward the ground, he said that his wife had given birth to a dead baby and he wanted to go to the cemetery to perform the final rites. He had all the hospital documents with him with regards to the dead baby. 

As I immediately let him sit down comfortably, something deep in my heart ached. It was only two years back that my brother’s wife had given birth to a baby. I remember it as if it was only yesterday. We were all so excited about the new arrival and the entire family had gathered up in the hospital to share the anticipated joy. We all waited with bated breaths to know what the doctor was going to announce once the operation door opened. Lo and behold! As the operation theater’s door sprung to life, all of us stood up as the white haired doctor walked up to us and announced that it was a baby girl! Our joy was however short lived as almost immediately, a big nurse flung the operation theater’s doors open once again and hurriedly told the doctor that the baby’s condition was critical and he needed to attend immediately. 

Our worst fears came true only after three nightmarish days. My brother and his wife were clearly affected and have not come over the horrendous incident even two years later. I knew what this man was going through and I let out a nervous smile at him as I throttled the machine to motion forward into the busy street. All through the trip, I felt the urge to ask several questions and thus sympathize with him over his irreparable loss but every time. I looked at him through the overhead rear view mirror, I decided not to.  The journey of ten minutes seemed almost an hour with both of us staring into space, each having his own agonizing thoughts. As we reached the final destination, the man descended slowly as if not to awake the baby. I let a tear roll down my rough unshaven cheek. He looked at me and smiled wryly. He took out some currency notes but I denied. I asked him to proceed to lay the little body to its final resting place. He did not say a word and continued to walk in the direction of the creaky old fashioned gates of the cemetery. I sat in the auto and took a swift U-turn to proceed back to business with deep emotional thoughts.  As I was doing this, I turned to look back at the man one final time. He was not near the gates of the cemetery as expected. I turned around to scout for him. He could not have entered the gates of the cemetery so quick. Just as I was deciding to not bother about this and let the man have some time alone, I heard what sounded like miffed cries of a human baby. Now it was pretty unlikely that there was a baby in this part of the town. I decided to find out for myself. Something did not seem right.  I hurried out of the auto and ran in the direction of the cry. What caught my eye was a dreaded scene. The same middle aged man was trying to hold the face of the baby trying to muffle the cries. The baby was alive and kicking. He turned back only to receive a flying blow in his face in an attempt to break his nose. He immediately let go of the baby and fell with a thud to the ground.

I immediately lifted the crying baby in my hand and tried to comfort it. I knew I had only a few seconds before the demon would come to terms with what just happened. I walked up to him and caught him by his collar. He struggled to lift himself up. The blow had indeed shaken him and had left him with a bleeding nose. I decided to freeze any possible actions from him for the next minute at least. I took position and lifted my leg to swiftly land in the middle of his legs. He let out a howl and fell in the favor of gravity. Wasting no further time, I made a quick call to a friend in the area and directed him to get a few friends along to the cemetery.  A couple of minutes and a couple of blows between the leg later, my friends arrived and took immediate control of the situation while I took some time to comfort the incessantly crying baby. Several seconds later, a siren marking the arrival of the police was heard. Through the spot investigations, it became clear that the man was only hired to do the job by a couple that did not want a girl child. The child was taken away to be kept safe in the Child Protection Committee.  As the authorities took the little baby away, I could not help but think about how this little human being got into this world and had her first betrayal almost immediately in the human society. Betrayal by her own creators, someone who had carried the life in her womb, someone who had planted the life into the womb out of pure love. What would she grow up to be – a good human being because of some angels like my friends and me who saved her from the clutches of a heartless man or a bad human being because of a ghastly act committed by her creators? 

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