The Strangest Thing…

The most strangest thing happened to me today on my way to work. It overwhelmed me and I still feel a slight after shock of it. It’s the attention I found to be a bit too much.

On my way to work I was at the train station waiting for my train to arrive when an elderly gentleman approached. He was short and slim, his face looked worn out and tired. It was as if he had been living for centuries and each year of his life was etched in the wrinkles of his face. The gentleman’s eyes were deeply sunk into his face and he worn slimline glasses. A striking feature of him were his eyes; a light colour but clear as day and shiny. The man worn a hat on a head full of grey hair dotted with a few dark strands. His hands shook as he pointed to his destination station and asked which train he needed to catch. I removed my headphones and said it would be the next train arriving at this platform. It just so happened to be the same train as mine. He sat a few seats away from me on the platform bench and asked if I would help him onto the train when it arrived as his vision is impaired. Not a problem at all. We chatted for a while, he asked me where I was from and the languages I spoke and if I was married. The gentleman said he was from Morocco and that he had been living with his children but they had thrown him out and he was now on his way to his brother’s house.

I saw the train arriving and got up to collect my belongings. I informed the frail gentleman that the train was arriving now. He got up slowly which reaching out for my arm. I went and stood to his left and he grabbed my arm tightly. It was only then that I noticed just how frail he was; his hands icy cold on a day where the average temperature in London is 15 degrees celcius. His hands shaking as he held his single crutch in his right arm. He walked slowly towards the train as it pulled up on the platform. We reached the door as it stopped and the doors opened. He hesitated at first to walk through but a light push and words of encouragement got him moving again. It was short-lived though as a young man brushed past the gentleman on his right, knocking the crutch from his hand which fell between the small gap between the train and the platform. It was hanging on by the arm support band. This caused a great deal of distress. The gentleman started panicking, shaking and speaking rapidly and loudly. I realised that the doors were about to close which would have pushed us both into unstable positions. I pulled the emergency cord to prevent this from happening. All the while the gentleman was desperate to get a hold of his single crutch. I spoke slowly and straight to the gentleman to clam him down, I explained that I was there and wouldn’t let go of his arm and that i will get his crutch for him. While speaking to the gentleman, the train driver came out to see what all the commotion was about. I briefly explained and the train driver picked up the crutch and handed it to the gentleman. He grabbed it like his life depended on it. He escorted us to the nearest empty seats and explained that the police would want to speak to us at his destination stop.

During the short journey to his destination, the gentleman explained that he’s going to his brother’s house because he has no money and nowhere else to go, his wife passed away many years ago and he is all alone now. “I feel so alone, I just want a place to stay in my dying days”, he said. I sat in silence while he spoke. We arrived at our destination and as promised by the driver of the train, the police were there waiting for us. There were two officers, a tall built caucasian officer who looked like the lead for the day and a slightly shorter female officer with I helped the elderly man off the train and spoke to the police to explain what had happened. They took my details and the broken details of the man. The police thanked me and shook my hand. “Well done”, they said. No problem I said and went back to my seat. Little did I know that I would receive a round of applause for my behaviour. The whole carriage applauded and this is what truly overwhelmed me.

I don’t think my behaviour was of any particular significance neither was it an act of heroism. I merely assisted an elderly but distressed man. Why is helping someone such a heroic act? As humans this is what we’re suppose to do and how we should be behaving surely? Not all do I realise this and accept too but it saddens me to know that we as humans are too impatient, proud and self-centred to stop and ask or even assist those less fortunate than ourselves. Many people may read this and forget just as quickly so it’s not really for those who won’t be able to understand its more for those who do behave in this manner. My message to you is that keep up the work, you never know when your single moment of assistance to another human will be one which will make a world of difference to them. The difference between life and death even.

Best wishes,
Maahi PM

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