The other day, my college organised a seminar on Bhagat Puran Singh. Speaker after speaker heaped praise on the great saint who dedicated his body and soul in the service of the destitute. The audience listened to them with rapt attention. When the seminar came to an end, students of my class asked a volley of questions to the experts on Bhagat Puran’s life. They happily obliged the students.
The next day, a student asked me: ‘What makes a man give up everything for others, and that too in the prime of his life?’ It was not a difficult question, but it was certainly a tricky one. I attempted to answer it, but failed to satisfy the student. To pull myself out of the embarrassing situation, I immediately started reading the poem Somebody’s Mother to the class. I explained the poem in detail, and also the compassionate act of the boy who helps an old and infirm woman cross a busy road on a chilly winter day. When I finished my lecture, the same student again put the same question to me. This time, I felt a bit angry, but controlled myself. To deflect his salvo, I aggressively recited a couplet of an Urdu poem. This gave the whole class the jitters. The student who put the question was also confused. I felt strangely victorious and started gloating over my win.
Days passed on. But off and on, I tried to read the mood of the student. Every time, I found that his quest for a proper answer was not yet over. After a few days, something strange happened. The student whose query I tried to dodge by throwing an intellectual googly came to me along with a group of five friends. His shirt was soiled with bloodstains. He took me to a corner in the staff room and asked for a donation of a few rupees. His friends started talking to my colleagues. When I asked him why he was collecting donation, what he told me, made my heart swell with pride.
‘Sir, a five-year-old child of a migrant labour of my locality has been taken ill. I took him to a doctor. After examination, the doctor advised an operation. Hearing about it, the poor parents of the child broke down. Tears also welled up in my eyes. I immediately rung up my friends and sought their help, which they promised. So, here we are, collecting money for the treatment of that boy.’
I patted him on his back and also gave him some money. Before leaving, he also told me that he had got the answer to the question he had put to me twice the other day.
‘What is that?’ I asked innocently.
‘Sir, a Samaritan has no age. It takes two things to be a saviour of the needy. First, a challenging situation, and second, a heart that beats for others.’
That day, I also learnt how to attain Samaritan-hood.
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