We shall meet our Madam at 4’o clock’–on receiving this SMS, those youngsters were excited. At 3:58 p.m., all assembled in the Madam’s room. Whenever this group of eight youngsters studying in third year in a college at Coimbatore met, they always had a lot to discuss about the welfare of the society.
They would donate blood to many through their blood donation camps, by which they saved many lives, and by their loving service they bring joy to orphanages, and provide education to several poor students. These were all due to Kausalya Madam’s training. These eight youngsters were her students.
‘Akhila, regarding what service are we going to discuss today?
I wonder how our Madam is able to come up with new ideas every time we meet,’ remarked Vasu.
‘The reason why we enjoy our studies without feeling them as a burden is because of Madam’s training in service,’ said Setu.
‘Pavitra, note down the minutes of today’s meeting,’ said Vasu and Pavitra opened her laptop with delight.
‘Oh, what is this? Today there is a screen and a LCD projector. Is Madam going to show us some video?’ asked Akhila.
‘Yes, yes. She is going to screen the latest movie for you!’ retorted Pavitra.
As they continued their friendly chat, Kausalya Madam walked in like a breeze of fresh air.
‘What! Madam’s eyes usually radiate compassion. But today it seems to emit anger,’ they observed.
‘Madam, what is the agenda of this meeting?’ asked Pandian.
‘Please have a look at this video clip,’ replied Madam with her eyes wet.
Akhila turned off the lights.
‘Oh, this clip was telecasted on Vijay TV!’ remarked Setu.
It was at a traffic signal on a busy road. Vehicles are madly plying like ghosts on either sides of the road. The commuters are busy with only red and green lights, countdowns, traffic police, and in an insensitive world
of their own.
The signal turns red. Oh! All the vehicles which are trying to beat the signal come to a sudden halt with their wheels screeching in frustration.
The signal showed 60.
There were autos, cars and buses–more than 200 in number, waiting impatiently for the next 60 seconds. A traffic policeman was standing at a corner. One or two beggars knocked at the window panes of air-conditioned cars to get a coin or two.
Signal at 52.
A man on a two-wheeler in the front looked at the signal with irritation; then he looked at the mirror on his vehicle; meddled with his mobile phone; listened to the music; removed his helmet and wiped his head; and spat on the road.
Signal at 45.
Ah! What is this?
‘Kill him,’ shouted a mob of rogues chasing a 25-year youth with sticks and knives in their hands. Unable to run further, he fell down. People were mutely witnessing the scene.
‘Finish him off!’ they yelled as one of them gave him a big blow. Blood splashed around.
Signal at 35.
As one man took his knife, another stamped on him. The plea of the youth to leave him was muffled by the horn sound of the vehicles.
As the four men were mercilessly hurling the youth around, an auto driver came rushing to help. Even before driver could intervene to save him, he was hit and pushed down to the ground. No one else came forward to help the driver.
‘Damn it! These fellows get drunk and then fight like this!’ said an onlooker.
Signal at 25.
The youth who was severely wounded crawled to the roadside groaning in pain. Even the beggars disappeared from the scene. One of the miscreants trampled on the victim’s neck and went away. The youth’s groaning too stopped.
Signal at 13.
The rogues run in the opposite direction jeering the ‘onlookers’.
In the front row were 4 or 5 two-wheelers and cars, waiting impatiently for the signal to turn 0. There was no trace of disturbance on their faces. As though to say, ‘These things are common on the roads’, they turned their attention elsewhere. One of them even took a photo of the wounded youth with his cell phone.
The signal turned 0.
The sounds of the blaring horns grew louder. Tension, smoke and irritation. People at signal had turned insensitive, like the machines they handled. The blood which flowed from the victim was wiped off by the screeching tyres of the speeding vehicles.
Kausalya Madam switched on the lights. A raging anger was seen in the eyes of the eight students. They felt as if they were going to burst like a volcano.
‘Madam, this incident happened on 21.07.2011 in Coimbatore. It was also reported in a newspaper,’ said Ramesh softly.
Wiping the tear off her eyes, Madam said, ‘My boys, our people are turning into burnt bricks with absolutely no feelings or emotions. We need to do something about this,’ she remarked angrily.
‘Madam, the police arrived immediately after this incident, but the fatally wounded victim died the very next day,’ said Ramesh.
‘It is nauseating to think of those insensitive people who were merely watching the miscreants beat that youth. What kind of human beings are they? It is a great tragedy that the people of our country are turning into inanimate objects with no trace of humanity. This incident is a ‘signal’ to warn us of this growing trend.’
Akhila tried to simmer down the heat of the discussion. ‘Can we through our “Vivekananda Awareness Club” conduct a signature campaign to protest against this incident?’ she asked.
‘Yes, we should do. Also, we should hold a public meeting and condemn the “Don’t care” attitude of people,’ remarked Setu.
Nirmala added, ‘Sorry to ask this… What can we do if people get drunk and end up in a brawl? Here Government itself is running liquor shops. Only when the liquor shops are closed will these things cease.’
‘Nirmala, if this was just a normal fight, we can leave it at that. But what is shocking and saddening is the way in which the people mutely watched when a hapless was tortured to death,’ replied Kausalya Madam.
Pavitra started typing something in her laptop seriously.
Madam continued. ‘What we discuss is not important. We need to do something to condemn these kinds of insensitive acts.’
‘What can we do, Madam?’ asked Vasu.
‘What are you asking my boy? Read Swami Vivekananda’s books. You will then understand what kind of a blessed land our country is. It is infuriating to even think that people born in this blessed country are acting like walking corpses overcome by fear and turning a blind eye to such atrocities!’ exclaimed Kausalya Madam.
There was intense silence in the room. Pavitra’s gentle typing was the only sound that was heard. With some irritation, Madam asked Pavitra, ‘Pavi, are you not affected by this incident? You keep on typing something!’
‘Madam, please bear with me, let me first send a mail to Bhaskar,’ said Pavitra.
Everyone got annoyed really. When such a serious social problem was being discussed, how can Pavitra even think about her fiancé Bhaskar?
Pavitra realizing that the entire group was staring at her said, ‘Madam, I have taken a decision.’
‘What decision, Pavi?’ snapped Nirmala.
‘Madam, will you please allow me to read the email I have just drafted for Bhaskar?’ asked Pavitra. Everyone was wondering why she was acting in such an insensitive and flimsy manner.
Pavitra said, ‘Madam, please listen. I will read out aloud…
I am writing this email after a lot of thought. Though we are already engaged, today I have changed my mind having learnt about your true character with ample evidence. I saw your irresponsible action at a Signal on 21.07.2011 in Coimbatore.
After this alarming ‘Signal’, I definitely cannot marry you. ‘He who has no compassion for the suffering of his fellow men is no human being at all,’ said Swami Vivekananda. I cannot accept a heartless creature like you who is incapable of doing the smallest of good to his fellow beings even in the time of crisis.
I don’t regret for this, Bhaskar.
One who has compassion,
Pavitra finished reading the letter. ‘Pavi, what is this? What happened to you?’ asked Akhila as she shook her shoulders.
Pavitra requested Kausalya Madam to play the ‘Signal’ video clip once again. Everyone looked at her with confusion.
Again the same scene on the video. When the video clipping showed the scene of a man on the two-wheeler in the front removing helmet, wiping his head, watching the youth getting killed as though he was watching a movie, Pavitra asked Akhila to pause the video.
‘Madam, this person on a two-wheeler is Bhaskar, to whom I was engaged,’ said Pavitra.
The whole room fell silent.
‘Tell me, Madam. The email to Bhaskar is ready. Shall I send it?’ asked Pavitra.
Kausalya Madam quickly grasped the situation. ‘Yes, Pavi, send it. Let this be the first brave step in our fight to destroy all such evils in our society,’ she said emotionally hugging Pavitra. At once everyone gave a standing ovation.
When Pavitra came out of the loving embrace, she saw a pair of magnetic eyes blessing her with deep love and immense grace.
They were indeed Swami Vivekananda’s charismatic eyes of courage and compassion.