Chocolate and Gold Coins

Monday, June 06, 2005

Encounter With a Fiend

What would you do if you met a person who you suspected was trying to transport a young girl against her will for perhaps very immoral purposes. It’s not your business, at least not directly. But you have enough information to know that something is very wrong. Do you interfere and risk getting into a fight with this fiend? Or do you look the other way?

I read this fascinating real-life encounter from Saket Vaidya (who writes a fascinating blog). Here is an excerpt:

This time I was direct with the guy:

“Aap Inke Saath Hain”

(Are you accompanying her)

“Aapko Kya Karna Hai”

(Why do you care?)

“Aap Inhe Kahan Le Ja Rahe Hain”

(Where are you taking her?)

“Dekhiye, Aap Beech Me Mat Padiye, Warna Raada Ho Jayega”

(I warn you, do not interfere. Else, there will be a fight)

That was it, I was sure that something was fishy now. I was prepared to get into a fight with the guy. I was prepared to raise an alarm. The situation was getting tense. The indicator showed 2 more minutes to go. A well dressed, suitcase carrying elderly gentleman, looking to be the good sort had been silently observing the exchanges. He pulled me aside. He gave me some seemingly well meaning advice:

Elderly Gentleman:
“Kyun Aise Logon Ke Jhamele Me Padte Ho Beta, Wo Jo Bhi Hoga, Ladki Ko Kahin Bhi Le Jaa Raha Hoga. Hamen Kya Farak Padta Hai. Hum Kyun Beech Me Padein. Wo To Nikal Jaayega, Shayad Hum Hi Takleef Me Padenge”

(Why are you involving your self with such people? Let him take the girl anywhere. How does it matter to us? Why should we interfere? He may get away, but perhaps we might get into trouble in the end)

That was so middle class. But it had a profound effect on me. The snobbish middle class quality of deliberately turning a blind eye to something to avoid the risk of getting into trouble manifested itself in me. I thought why should I get into a physical fight with someone because of something which, in no way affects my life. Why should I pull the world’s problems onto my head? Am I a social worker?

Read the full thing.

All it would have taken is for one person to stand up to the fiend and he would have run off. No one else did. It was not worth a fight to save this young girl from a miserable fate.

We all like to think we would have acted heroically in this situation, but few of us would have. I would have yelled at the old man. He was trying to help Saket but he would have gotten my wrath: he wouldn’t have fought back.


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