It was a fine sunny morning and I was enjoying the cool breeze in the sprawling lawns of my office situated atop a karewa in Kupwara. I received a call from my head office. The person speaking on the other side was quite a jolly person hailing from Maharashtra. “A very serious complaint is against your office. A subscriber is saying that his phone is faulty for the last 15 days,” said he. I replied, “No problem, sir, I will get it restored.” He quickly said, “No, no, don’t do such a mistake.”
Then what am I to do, I wondered and also became a bit curious. “Do what I have done,” said the person on the other side. “I offered the complainant a cup of tea, had a few chats with him, and the complainant immediately brought down the fault period of his phone from 15 days to just 5 days. Now I am sending him to you. You also offer him a cup of tea and I am sure that he will bring the fault period further down to zero.” Saying this he disconnected the phone and I began to wonder at this peculiar way of grievance redressal, of which I was unaware till then.
I then realised after this episode that I had learnt the lesson of my life. This approach towards the mitigation of problems may not be practicable or desirable for all times and in all situations but, nevertheless, can act as a healing balm and save us from many awkward situations. I have heard many a sick person saying that on entering the clinic of a doctor, the doctor spoke a few words of compassion to him which had a soothing effect and his pain subsided. I have even heard that there is a special branch in medical science where patients get cured by simple counselling, without any medication.
Once we went to see a high government functionary in connection with some usual civic problem to be solved. We were interviewed by a host of his deputies before seeing the boss, so much so that when we actually met the dignitary we had nothing much to say to him; we had already emptied our ire by simply talking to his deputies earlier. I now think that the real purpose of having personal secretaries or personal assistants attached to our high-ranking functionaries is to do this kind of PR only.
A researcher in some developed country was researching on the many appalling and sub-standard living conditions in which the people of the third world countries lived. One such condition was that of travelling in overcrowded buses. For this, he wanted not only to see but to also feel by travelling himself in such conditions, in scorching heat in overloaded jam-packed buses where he could taste the agonies and hardships that people tasted in such conditions. He came to the subcontinent and actually boarded overloaded buses, undertook such journeys in which he perspired, his clothes were torn apart, and he was pick-pocketed even. He then narrated in detail in his travelogue how in the melee, a child was separated from his mother, elderly and sick were roughed up, and the frequent scuffles that broke out among the passengers. However, there were some good samaritans too who would help the sick, elderly, women and children by offering space or a helping hand. This would sometimes translate into a lifelong bond of friendship and earned them plenty of goodwill.
I have myself observed that by just offering a little sitting space to a standing person in a train earns so much goodwill that it can translate into lifelong friendship at times. In fact, this is the real humanism (insaniyat), which keeps in mind that all of us (human beings) are the offsprings of the same mother and father (Adam & Eve) and are, in that sense, brothers and sisters and should deal as such with each other. This should be our article of faith. This is in keeping with the spirit of the Hadith mubarak in which a dying Suhabah does not drink water when offered but wants his companion to take it first.
The writer is a retired telecom engineer. [email protected]