The kindness (or not) of strangers

Published: June 21, 2010

"Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."

I travel a lot by bus. One thing I like about this mode of transport is that I get a firsthand look at the life of the man on the streets and his daily problems.

Just yesterday, on my way back from work, as I hopped on to S-2 I witnessed a sad scene. A family of let’s say five, two boys, one girl and parents, climbed onto the bus. That in itself was nothing unique. But one of the boys, of about ten years of age, was suffering from what appeared to be a disease because of which he could not completely control his limbs.

So there he was, trying to grab some rod or railing to hold on to while not a single member of his family, or anyone else, came forward to help him. Except for the bus conductor. As I saw the insensitivities of the people around him, of strangers as well as family, I held out my hand and led him to a seat next to his sister, who must have been a year or two older.

Even the driver shrugged him off when, as he was trying to sit down, he grabbed hold of the back of the driver’s seat. That boy is part of my society, a society that negates his very existence and neglects him.

In a forty minute journey, I could not figure out what and where things had gone so wrong. Have we become so used to life’s harsh realities that we shun people who need our help on a regular basis. In the end I could only think about Tennessee Williams’ play, A Street Car Named Desire, and the last words of Blanche DuBois to the doctor as she is being institutionalised: “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”


Saadia Qamar

A reporter on the Life and Style desk of The Express Tribune

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.