The subjectivity of one’s own significance…

I was riding home in an auto, on a warm, humid mid-monsoon afternoon, mulling over the many issues of my life — the boring history assignment due the next day, the fight with my mom and so on, when we jerked to a stop at a signal, and I got a look at the auto driver in the mirror.

I saw him properly for the first time. His crinkled eyes were narrowed (perhaps in concentration in navigating our way through the traffic?) or had his tiring work, ensuring his wards a better life, rendered those worry lines permanent. Or maybe he was a routine drinker, despite his meagre income.

Suddenly, charged with such thoughts, I looked outside. To my left, the man on his bike waiting for the signal, with sweating brow and huge backpack, a software engineer, I decided, late to work. Then, the Metrorail workers on the other side of the road, scrawny and dirty, toiling for something they know they can never afford to use, far from their homeland up north, leaving behind wives (and new born children?) or ailing mothers and unmarried sisters, hoping to provide for them all. The young boy, looking far younger than his probable age, looking for bottles and cans in the garbage flowing from the under-sized containers, to take them to the local recyclers. Was he thinking of the good he’s doing to mother earth? No. His thoughts are probably focused only on the meagre coins he’ll get in return, to feed his empty, stomach for the day. No one knows, nor seems to care… just like nobody notices the abundance of stories in the people around us. Only my own life seems of some significance to me while that of others remains insignificant; just like mine seems to them.

More In: Nxg | Metroplus | Chennai | Columns