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The difficulty of being good
Harming the hands that helps
Ahmedabad: In 2010, Samarth Patel (name changed) was riding his bike in Shahibaug area, when he hit a sandy patch and fell. He hurt his ankle and broke his laptop, but he realised that an old woman, who had been walking ahead of him, had also fallen down and was shouting that he had done it. Samarth rushed to her aid and tied a handkerchief around her bleeding wrist. He reasoned with her that at slow pace at which he was riding, he couldn't have hit anyone, much less injure her. But the woman kept screaming and a crowd gathered. The people asked Samarth to leave as they knew her and could take her home. But Samarth insisted on helping her. He took her to a private hospital, got her treated and called her sons to take her home. They asked for money, which he refused. Two days later, he was called in by the police and six months later, a case of negligence and causing grievous injury was slapped on him by the woman's family. "The case was finally sorted out two years later, after making numerous rounds of the courts, " he says. "I have been hassled and my family had no peace. They finally got Rs 38, 000 from my insurance and resolved the case in 2012 for an additional Rs 7, 000. I could have easily taken care of my own ankle that day instead, " he says. Samarth regrets his decision of trying to help the woman. "I became the laughing stock of my friends for trying to be good. "
Setting tongues wagging
Ahmedabad: Smita Bajpai, 52, who works with a non-profit, Chetna, in Ahmedabad, thought it was her duty to intervene when one of her neighbours started beating his wife in public outside their house. "I rushed out with my husband when I heard the screaming and loud banging of doors, " she says. The neighbour, a highly-placed government official, was virtually strangling his wife with his help of their son because she supported their daughter's decision to marry a man of her choice. Both men were violently angry and it took a while to separate them. Finally, Smita and two others pacified them and stopped the violence. The woman fainted there. It was Smita who took the woman to a hospital and called her parents to take her away for a few months. "But I bore the brunt of being a Good Samaritan, " she says. "For months, people in the housing complex held me responsible for the separation and called me a family-breaker. "
Burdened by guilt
Kolkata: July 24, 2012 will be etched in Arnab Chatterjee's memory for a long time. On that day after dropping off a friend at the airport late in the evening, Arnab, 31, was driving down the Rajarhat expressway to his Tollygunge home when he came across an ugly accident. A smashed red hatchback was lying in the middle of the road. "It had clearly collided head-on with another vehicle. " Inside the car he saw a middle-aged man, his face covered in blood, slumped on the steering wheel. On the front passenger seat was a lady, her face bloodied. It was a terrible sight. "But instead of stopping, I found myself driving away from the scene. In my mind, I knew I should stop, dial the cops and call for an ambulance. But I also felt I would be putting myself in trouble if I did all that. It was already 11 pm. " So despite his conscience telling him that he should help the injured, he drove away. "I couldn't sleep well that night. Next morning, I called up a journalist to find out about the accident victims. She said that the man and woman, a couple, were taken to a hospital around 12. 30 am and died after a few hours. According to the doctors, their lives could've been saved if they had got medical aid in time. Ever since then, I have been blaming myself for their deaths, " Arnab tells TOI-Crest. He started suffering from insomnia induced by a severe guilt complex and his appetite went down. Four months ago, his wife took him to a psychiatrist and he has been on counselling ever since. On his shrink's advice, he has shared his experience with his friends and colleagues and has even written about it in a Bangla newspaper. "Coming out and talking and writing about it has been a sort of a catharsis for me. I would like to do more to send the message across that we need to
help people in crises. Because the next time, it could be one of us in need of help and it would be terrible if people just passed us by, " says Arnab.
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