‘Do you want to see our famous Stone man ?’ It was the second time I am asked this by the tea stall owner. My train back to the city doesn’t arrive until two hours from now and this tea stall seems like the ideal place to kill time.
I started a friendly chit chat with the owner to secure my place in the shop. And that’s how the conversation started.It got me curious after hearing the promotion stories from the locals who were sitting by. I had to investigate the originality of the story.The owner even let me borrow his bicycle to visit the stone man’s place, which was not far away.
Okay it turned out he’s not made out of stone nor does he turn into a stone man at any time. Rather, he’s a very normal looking guy with a huge belly. Well, he eats STONES for real and that’s why he’s famous. He ate few stones in front of me and smile widely! He even shake his belly so that i can hear the rumbling sound!
Local people informed me that his wife left him and ran off with a close relative a few years ago. Since then he had trouble facing reality and became mentally ill.After months of disappearance he came back and started living by the rail track and eating stones became his habit. He does eat normal food too, if he can manage, but stones are his real grub! That’s what made him famous and people from various places come to visit. He became the pride of the village, The Stone man!
You see, every village has some sort of mentally ill orphan person, locally known as Pagol (The mad one). They are famous for their particular characteristics; some have really long decorated hair with rubbish braided through, some eat fire, some can see the future, some walk around nude with no consciousness and such. One thing in common between all of them is that they are mentally ill and orphaned.
To tell you the truth, I have been curious towards them all my life. I remember growing up around the countryside and watching so many types of mentally unstable persons. It’s like every city has a post office and at least one mad person.
I have been called a coward by my classmates for not joining in to throw rocks on them. Hey, I don’t mind being a coward all my life if that’s the condition….
Some people make business out of them too. Using the mentally ill person as a tool for their profit. But there is also comforting news. Many people treat them well, offer them food and shelter them on a regular basis. Sometimes due to poverty and the cruel reality they were forced to abandon their own family. How desperate is that situation, eh!
Couple of months ago, I encountered a mentally unstable woman with no clothes on. She was standing right beside me in the traffic signal. All I wanted was to walk away but the signal was testing me too.
People were teasing her from their vehicles and other modes of transportation. They gave her the dirty look and many nasty comments were in the air. What to do in such a situation then? Act like another brick in the wall? Pretend nothing is happening and walk away? Or would you join in and laugh at her too? No, I’m very much alive inside out. Luckily I had newspaper with me, so I gathered my courage and offered her to hide her private parts, which she did. Then the light turned to green and I proudly helped her to cross the busy avenue by holding her hand despite the comments from each corner.
I’m sharing my story with you, so that no one would hesitate or feel ashamed to help them. Every little effort can change our society. All you have to do is kick that inside hesitation out and Do iT! Remember one thing though, the first 4 seconds are crucial to take the effective decision!
Another time, a mentally unstable person asked me for food and I ignored him as I was attending a phone call. I got back to him afterwards and offered him some chocolate (that’s all i had that moment). The man didn’t accept my offer but instead he spit on my face twice. I didn’t get angry nor did I react to it at all. I simply asked him why. He laughed at me and told me I was a fool and walked away. Wouldn’t you laugh too..?
These people are so neglected in our society. They’ve been treated worse than any beggar. At least a beggar has a profession and earns his own money and food. But our mentally unstable people are homeless, hopeless and ill treated, even by the beggars. It seems society turns a blind eye on them.
But their mind works differently. They won’t rob your house, steal your money or poke in your private life. They won’t be enjoying any festivals like normal people do. All they want is some food and bit of shelter. But don’t worry, they won’t demand it from you. They will find their corner, Please don’t kick them out! Some of these mentally unstable persons are also mute or deaf.
There is only one national mental hospital here. I feel ashamed to tell you that, people actually go there to see a real mad person as if it’s a zoo, although I overheard that rules have been changed and no more public visits are allowed. Access is only allowed for relatives of the patient. There are private mental hospitals too but that’s only for those who can afford it.
Now, we live in an under development country with a dense population. We become so mute and selfish ourselves.
When a society is so chaotic and unforgiving even for the stronger members, how can we expect them to stand up for the weak and vulnerable ones? I say it is wrong, very wrong indeed. People are the foundation of the society. I say, if the people stand strong together, participate actively and grow awareness; then nothing can stop us from becoming one. But do we have the patience or the tolerance for that!?
Do we even think of our next door old sick neighbor before our dinner? And here I am, talking about homeless mentally disabled people in the streets.
We have miles to walk my friends, to bring everyone under one umbrella. But it is not impossible, nah it’s not. Even the word impossible says, i’m possible!
It doesn’t cost you much to show a little mercy! To give a little bit of food from your daily quota to help a homeless or insane person.
How come we call ourselves civil, while a nude woman on the street is humiliated by a younger generation? Do you really feel entertained to see a mental sick boy chained to a tree? Is it just part of the amusement program for society ? No mentally ill person should be treated as the main attraction of any village…