Last week, as I alighted at a bus stop opposite Velocity Mall in the sweltering noon heat, I sought refuge under a crowded bus-stop shelter.

Then I noticed the bus had not moved because the bus captain was helping a man in a wheelchair off the bus. The wheelchair landed with a jerk and came close to toppling and the onlookers gasped.

The man in the wheelchair scolded the driver, who returned to his seat quietly. He did not even pause to pick up a water bottle that the man dropped.

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The man appeared to be in a sorry state. He did not look older than 65. He wore faded, tattered clothes and there were about 10 bulging plastic bags tied to his wheelchair.

After retrieving his bottle, he attempted to cross the road. To everyone’s horror, he reversed his wheelchair and rolled off the curb onto the busy road, right onto the path of oncoming lunch-hour traffic.

At this, oncoming cars slowed down and came to an abrupt halt. Some drivers honked gently, while others swerved slightly before driving off. We watched as he trundled in his wheelchair to the middle of the road.

There, he discovered that roadworks were in progress, so there was no way he could steer his wheelchair to the other side of the road. At that moment, he appeared disoriented, at the speeding cars, the heat, the dazzling bright daylight, cowering in fear.

Just then, a blue car – its hazard lights blinking – came to a stop next to him and a tall, bespectacled man stepped out. Raising his hand to signal to the other drivers, this stranger ran to the wheelchair user. He bent down and spoke with the man before wheeling the man to the other side, constantly gesturing to other vehicles to watch out for them as he steered the wheelchair through the gaps in the roadworks.

Witnessing his kind act was certainly an eye-opener, and it’s also made me realise that when the situation calls for it, it’s important to be proactive. Thank you for being an inspiration, dear stranger on the road. I wish I had done what you did!

Joyeeta N. Chowdhury

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