Friday, October 15, 2010

The Little Green Man

Today was one of those rare days when I was headed to the library to actually pick up a course book. (Usually, I only go there to chat for hours and post insignificant updates on facebook.) I was waiting to cross the road when an elderly couple holding hands of a 4-5 year old boy who was walking between them joined me in my wait. The elderly couple were taking this opportunity to educate the boy about the art of crossing the road.

To give you some context, this crossing was one of those where, before you cross the road, you need to press a button and then wait for the light signal to turn green. The light signal is in the form of a little red man. When the little red man turns green, you can cross the road, else you (should) wait.

The elderly woman gently explained to the little boy that we are only supposed to cross the road when the little green man appears. And now the little boy was eagerly waiting for the man to turn green. This being a busy intersection, it was taking forever. While we waited, a lot of people crossed the road without waiting for the signal as soon as they had the opportunity. The little boy kept asking "Why is that man crossing now? The Little Green Man isn't here yet." The elderly man went (mostly for the benefit of the little boy) "tut tut tut...no, no you shouldn't. You could get hurt doing this." So the elderly couple, the little boy, me, and a couple of more people stayed. I would have crossed the road, if it had not been for the little boy. I somehow did not want to set a wrong example for him.

I was also reminded of what Kazuo Ishiguro had to say yesterday at Newcastle City Hall about how the world conspires to make a child believe that everything is perfect and that the world is a nice place to live in. He gave beautiful examples of how sometimes people pause their fights and hide their cigarettes and put on beautiful smiles when a child is passing by. Of course that doesn't happen everywhere, but I am sure all of us do this to some extent in some form or the other.

Anyways, this was turning out to be a rather long wait and I was silently praying for the little green man to appear soon or for the elderly couple to cross the road without waiting for him. When no one could bear it any longer, the elderly couple finally started crossing. The little boy protested that the green man isn't here yet. The elderly woman vindicated their little infraction by stating that the little green man had probably called in sick today. But anyways, as soon as they started crossing the road, all of us who had been waiting patiently soon followed, relieved that we were still in the little boy's good books as law-abiding human beings. 

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