Roses and thorns

Not long ago, there was a distressing report regarding an 18-year-old boy who was run over by a speeding bus. While he was writhing in pain screaming for help, blood streaming out of his torso, all that the eye-witnesses did was to capture his plight on their phones! Not one came forward to help him, and by the time the ambulance arrived after an agonising lapse of half an hour, the boy had bled to death. This is just one of the many such gut-churning incidents in our city notorious for its unruly traffic.

It is not that there are no good Samaritans among us who would volunteer to help under such situations. It is known that doing good to others — especially to someone in distress — gives one a pleasant feeling that behavioural scientists call a ‘warm glow.’ Despite this perception, it is an admitted fact that people hesitate to be good Samaritans for sheer fear of involving themselves in legal hurdles. Consider this thought-provoking incident related to this issue that I happened to witness a few years back.

A newly-purchased Volkswagen car had been parked near a dustbin on a main road in BSK II stage, where I was residing then. With autumn at its peak, an abundant quantity of dry leaves had shed from the trees lining the road and had been swept into huge heaps around the overflowing dust bin near which this car had been rather thoughtlessly parked.

As per usual practice, the contents of the bin had been set on fire and the flaming mass of leaves had spilled onto the dry heap, igniting it. Due to heavy breeze, the fire was fast spreading towards the parked Volkswagen. Sensing the imminent disaster, the keeper of the nearby humble paan-cigarette shop raised an alarm and frantically started looking for the owner of the car at nearby business establishments, in vain.

However, the good Samaritan in him would not give up. Gathering some people, he tried to push the car but it didn’t budge. As the flames approached the car, he desperately took a boulder and smashed it through the car’s front window! Releasing the hand brakes and shifting the gear to neutral, he managed to push the car to a safe distance as the watching crowd heaved a sigh of relief.

By then, the commotion had brought the owner of the car to the scene. Completely shaken by what he saw, the man’s immediate response was to pounce on the chap who had “disfigured” his vehicle! Only after some of us explained the situation to him did he loosen up with some reluctance. He then drove away without even acknowledging the ennobling deed.

On the face of it, it may appear to be the order of things that good deeds are often accompanied by unsavoury responses, reminding us of the popular ballad song, Every rose has its thorn. How divine it would be if we could savour the bliss of the rosy glow ignoring the thorny hassles that go with it! 

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