Saturday, March 17, 2012

Paradigm Shift

Take a moment to read the title, do you understand it? No worries if you can't.. I'll cut straight to the chase with an anecdote.
As soon as the subway train's carriage doors hissed open, I stepped in and immediately glanced around for an empty seat. At this early hour, the subway wasn't too crowded, and I eased into the nearest seat. 
I had had a tiring night-shift at the hospital, pretty much swimming upstream against a river of paperwork, all I wanted was a hot shower and get into bed and read my lecture notes till sleep got the better of me. 
Directly opposite me sat a middle-aged man, I would've guessed  his age to be around 35. He had a strong jaw, tidy blonde hair and face that was expressionless. He was well-dressed: shiny black suit, a starched white shirt and black tie. It was then I noticed the children, three of them, ages of around 7, 9, 11 at first guess. They were a noisy bunch, running up and down the carriage, making a general nuisance of themselves. The elder two were shielding some sort of toy from the youngest one, causing him to squeal in anger. I could feel the throbbing in my head getting worse. I looked around the carriage for the parents, my annoyance growing every second. What kind of parents leave their kids unsupervised?!
The kids continued their fool-hardiness for another 15 minutes. The youngest now ran across the length of the carriage, and tripped over someone's paper bag, sending the contents sprawling throughout the carriage. By now my irritation had elevated to the level wherein I was contemplating telling the children off for their misbehavior.  
The strong-jawed man intervened, "Jamie, say sorry, and pick up the things now". It was then it hit me, the three kids were the children of the well-dressed guy. It all made sense now, their blonde hair matched perfectly. I sat there cursing the man, who had been silent all this time, while his kids ran amok.   
As I handed the can of baked beans back to the old lady to whom belonged the paper bag, I caught a chilling exchange between the man and his sons.
"Dad, how long till we get to see mom", chirped the little one
The father replied solemnly, "About an hour"
"Can I put this Spider-Man action figure in her box? She gave it to me and I want her to have it now"
A solitary tear inched down the father's face. My expressions softened immediately, it didn't take me long to realise what the 'box' meant, and as if I needed further proof, the oldest one, now huddled by the father's leg said, "Will this really be the last time we see mommy?"
They were dressed up and on the way to the funeral.
The painful moment when my ignorant irritation turned to sympathy: Paradigm Shift

Can you imagine the emotional turmoil that the widower was growing through? Contemplating raising three children too young to even properly comprehend their mother's death. And there I was cursing him in silently moments earlier. In fact his poker face showed remarkable bravery, many would've broken down.

Too often we are clouded by our own worries, hopes and expectations to perceive what is really going on in our surroundings. Or it could just be the fact that we are too judgmental, we take what we see and process it into the first idea that pops into our head.

It isn't a sin to be judgmental, but nevertheless, a little stopping-to-think goes a long way...

I understand this is bit of an abstract post but hey, its better than a monotonous recollection of my daily life.


  1. Heavy hearted and I feel for the kids, the poor dad,!!!