How to help when there is nothing to help with

Should I decide to reach out and help?

How to help when there is nothing to help with

Sometimes walking along a path you hear a commotion behind. You slow down for a brief look over your shoulders, assess the cause of commotion and decide to walk on. It might have been a crowded path and you thought there are many others already involved. Someone would surely resolve the situation. It is a natural way of thinking.

Instead, if there were no one around other than you and a middle aged woman with a rambling old man causing the commotion behind, you may stop and wait for the pair catch up with you.

It was during an evening stroll along a winding narrow road that connected two main roads. I love this stretch because of its emptiness with very few people taking this path. The road was dimly lit helping me to isolate myself from the surroundings in my walk.

The noise behind was sudden and jarring. I stopped to see what caused the unusual disturbance. A middle aged woman was desperately trying to persuade a fairly tall old man to proceed forward but the man stood rooted to one spot venting his anger and frustration in a loud voice. In a few minutes the pair started moving again. I waited in the dimly lit road while they moved towards me.

As the old man started walking I saw his gait was halting, jaunty, faltering and apparently quite painful for him. As he neared, in the dim light I looked at his ragged unshaven haggard face, muscles twitching from uncontrolled emotion and pain. While he walked, his hands flailing, he complained in a very loud voice and the woman tried to pacify him in vain, but nevertheless trying desperately, “It is only a few minutes more. We are very near.”

Problem analysis

The man must have been suffering from semi-paralytic movement disorder arising due to a possible cerebral attack in the past, I thought.

The two of them surely had started from the main road behind us towards a destination a short distance ahead along this deserted branching road. Possibly the woman thought it would only be a short distance and there would be no problem at all.

A short distance for a normal person may be many miles for a physically challenged person.

It was only about thirty feet between us when they started towards me. But their progress was very slow taking interminably long time. Twice the old man stopped again, his agitation and difficulties mounting.

Scenario analysis

They had nearly stalled as I went on evaluating the possibilities. Should I intervene?

The old man was so highly agitated flailing his arms and shouting out his helplessness and frustration that even the woman shrank away from him. I saw her unwilling to go near and hold his hand. She went on reasoning with him only exciting him more.

If this continued they might reach a fully immobile situation, unable to go forward or backward. Then the distance to their destination won’t matter.

Worst that could happen would be the old man collapsing.

Time and place was such that nothing came this way. This being not a normal route for any conveyance only an unoccupied rickshaw might take this shortcut road by chance. That would be by chance and with no certainty.

Decision

I saw with clarity,

We have to help ourselves. There is no other way. None would help us.

Principle of self help and faith

When there is none to help, you have yourself and your faith.

I had already taken the decision to help.

I saw myself in the dim light in place of the old man, on the verge of collapsing, unable to move, helpless.

Options

But how to help? What options do I have? I couldn't see any resources that could be used.

The woman, his companion, not only took a wrong decision earlier, but also was completely at a loss in dealing with the situation spiralling fast towards an emergent adverse outcome.

Communication

Just as they came abreast me, I went in. Extending my hand held the palm of the old man firmly and assured him with forced calm, “I am with you. It is easy. We will soon reach the end.” I continued talking with him and moving forward slowly, all along holding his hand firmly. He walked beside me, trusting me, I could feel.

We took one step after another, and again another. It was progress.

Past the crest of criticality

The three puny humans moved ahead slowly but surely along a dimly lit road.

Happy ending

As it usually happens, within a few minutes out of nowhere an empty rickshaw appeared. The woman and the old man, calm now, took their seats.

Never knew so much could be done just by holding the hand needing help with assurance and faith; reaching out and holding the hand firmly may finally turn the tide.