I was returning home when I remembered I needed to buy some groceries. I did come across Malls on the way but preferred to buy them from small shops along the roadside. They had families to feed too. I am indispensable to them. Mall Owners do not need me.
A few people were already standing in one of the shops I frequented. I waited patiently for my turn. The shop keeper too had loads of it…patience I mean. He chatted, smiled, laughed and chewed a betel leaf, while giving each customer whatever he asked for, while I waited.
A labourer waited beside me. His back was bent with sacks of rice and he was still waiting for more to be piled on him. My waiting was painless but his was not.
” Please give him whatever more he needs to carry on him.” I told the shopkeeper.
He was exchanging long pleasantries with one of the customers.
He stopped and gave the labourer a disdainful look.
” He is used to waiting. I have more important things to do.” He told me dismissively.
” Your more important things can wait. He is standing already bent with all that weight. Don’t you see that?” I told him.
He called out to the helper inside and barked some orders, looking angry. Another big sack was put on the labourers back and he went away shuffling.
While the shop keeper returned to his work; I quietly moved away. How can humans be so inhuman?
I had no wish to buy anything from that shop anymore. He could stack things in his shop because of that labourer. He could sell things in bulk because of him too. How was he not sensitive to his discomfort? Does just paying a few bucks in return suffice for all that hard labour?
We buy so many things for our daily subsistence everyday. Perhaps we should remember and thank all those faceless people, who with their tireless efforts, ensure a hot nourishing meal three times a day for us.
I crossed that shop everyday afer that incident, but refused to go and buy anything from there any more. Almost six months later, I was just passing by when my eyes fell on the Shop keeper. The moment our eyes met; he looked down with guilt on his face. I know not why I felt guilty too. I moved towards the Shop smiling. I had a long list in my hands.