This incident is bizarre and has shocked and disappointed me. Let me begin with a few facts first.
At 6.40 pm, this Sunday, at a pedestrian crossing my wife walked across the Zebra crossing. Her walk was interrupted by a string that resisted against her leg. It was a ‘maanja’ (a thread laced with cut glass pieces to strengthen the thread and used for flying kites). At that moment, the traffic light changed and the cars began to surge forward. To avoid the traffic, she moved fast across the road, with the thread biting against her lower leg, and once she got to the other side, her left leg buckled. She rested against a wall and on closer examination saw a deep gash at the back of her leg, and suspected the worst – her tendon Achilles heel had been instantly severed and cut.
I was following her a few yards behind her, and instead of taking the zebra crossing had decided to go beyond the back of the still cars. While crossing my chest brushed against the maanja, and I lifted it over my head and walked past. A young boy was holding on the string tightly and was pulling at it, even while he was being remonstrated by a auto driver a few yards behind who had parked on the side. When I crossed over, to the other side, I could not see my wife, and thought she had walked ahead of me. My phone rang and it was my wife. She was behind me, where she had been leaning against the wall, post the bizarre incident. I rushed to her.
To cut to the chase: a surgery the next day, with six weeks in cast, twelve weeks of physio to support her walking again, and another 18 to 24 months to get back to active fitness! At present, she is subjected to a walker and is incapacitated for now.
My story actually begins now. She shared this incident with a friend, an ex-journalist, and who agreed it would be a good idea to share this story with the press, so that it would warn ‘fellow citizens’ to be more careful, even hoping someone would investigate the issue and give more evidence to illegal kite flying in open and public places. That was the intention, noble as it was.
A reporter of a newspaper called her on the phone, listened to her full story and was sympathetic and was hoping to write up the story for the newspaper. Then he asked her background. She said she was a housewife, earlier a teacher for many years, and prior to that in hospitality. He hummed and hawed, and then asked her a bizarre question: “You said you are a housewife, would you mind if I changed your status to a professional working woman?”
Wife: “Why would you want to do that?
He: “Because my editor[in his opinion] would not print it unless it had a professional lady who had this accident. The story needs to be enhanced”.
Wife: “But I am a housewife, why should I say or agree to being something else?”
He: “I know, but if I have to print the story, I will need to change your status, to make the story more interesting” he stuttered.
Wife: But that’s wrong don’t you think. It would be a false report, would it not.
He: “I understand’ he says, “but it’s a small matter”.
Wife: “it’s a big matter for me. Does my life not matter? Would it matter only if I was a working woman?”
He: “You have to understand….”
Wife: “I would feel it’s a story even if it happens to me or to a beggar or a drug addict. It does not matter. It is about human life, is that so hard to understand?”
The conversation went on for a while. You have got the gist of it. Finally, my wife requested that he let this matter drop: she was not prepared to lie, she was happy for the story to remain untold.
This incident has left me feeling disappointed. It makes me question what ‘lies’ we are prepared to write up to print a story. What incidents are really true? What needed to be ‘added’ to make it printable?
My wife for one, had reconciled to the fact that this story, would never be printed. It would be just another ‘story’ in her repertoire to share with friends.
What does this story bring up for you? Does interest lie only for those perceived as having economic value. Is a housewife, no value. Does looking after family, an aged mother, and creating a foundation of deep values for those she loves has no place for print media? There is no finger pointing here: to the reported, the editor, the newspaper, etc. The system we see is the system we deserve. We are all responsible. We are all responsible.
My wife decided she was in control of just one thing: to NOT walk the path of a lie. In her act, I believe she demonstrated a value, that is important. To protect the dignity of each one of us – as being human. She did what she did – she defended and stood by her values. When your turn comes, I hope each of you will do the right thing.
I have chosen not to mention names for that is not the point.
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