The Invisible Umbrella

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I was on the way from home yesterday to my boarding place and had to go to one of the shops in Kiribathgoda Town to buy a pair of studs and a brochure needed for the event that I was to attend in the evening. Just after I got into the bus it started raining heavily and this reminded me of not having an umbrella at the moment. The bus was not that crowded. Suddenly I heard the conductor shouting at a woman to get out from the bus. I looked around to see who it was and saw this woman at whom he was shouting. She appeared to be around her sixties. Her clothes were all torn and she had 3 bags with her which too were torn and full of dust. Her hair was pure white and messy, she had a white wrinkled skin and appeared to be so fragile. While the conductor was shouting at her I saw her silently looking down with a hundred rupee note in her hand. The problem was not about the money, it was about her looks I thought.”Eh Pissu Gaaniyek” I heard the driver saying to one of the passengers in the bus. She was asked to get down from the bus in the next halt and I too was to get down at the same halt.

It was still raining and I was so worried about not having an umbrella. I got down and the shop I wanted go was on the other side of the road. I was literally standing at the pedestrian crossing amidst the heavy rain, that I felt like I was having a cold public shower. While it was still raining I was not having my usual shower any more. For a moment I thought that god has looked upon me and sent an invisible umbrella. So I looked around. Somebody was holding an umbrella for me and for my utter amazement it was that old woman who was asked to get down from the bus. She had a big umbrella with her and was holding it for her as well as for me. I smiled at her in the manner of saying thank you and she helped me to cross the road and to reach the shop without getting wet in the rain and then not saying a word she dissappeared into the crowd.

While I was standing on the road before she came with an umbrella, there were other people around me who acted like I was invisible. None of them dared to help me but this woman who was called mad saw me and provided me the shelter I wanted at that time. So this got me thinking about how people judge others easily. She was kicked out of the bus because she looked like a mad woman which she really was not or may be she is, because having a heart of a human in a society of heartless people should be a some kind of madness.

To help another person to overcome a hardship when nobody else stood up for you should definitely be a kind of madness. Though her clothes were unable to speak for her as for us, her actions did. Most of us cover over miserable lives and unkind hearts with fancy outfits. But she did not want any of them. Because she was wearing the outfit of humanity which most of us are very much blind to and sometimes is ashamed of. I felt ashamed of myself. I could have spoken for her and stood for her when the conductor was shouting. But I did not. Because I was afraid of being human. I was afraid of the society more than being afraid of that woman who was called mad!

Rtr. Santhusha Nawalahewa

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