As I walked back after seeing off a friend, I was accosted by, what appeared to be, a large family of migrants. On a busy road in Bangalore.
They asked me if I speak Hindi or Marathi. I answered affirmatively, offering to speak in Hindi.
The main guy, who was holding an infant in his arms, started to narrate his tale of woe. He told me they had come here to visit a temple and on the way back, they were robbed of Rs. 6000 and had no idea on what to do. A general murmur of agreeable noise to support him emerged from the rest of his party. I looked at him, his family members and wondered what to do.
I offered, ‘Why don’t you go to the police station? I can direct you to the nearest one’
A general groan went around the group. They said they had done all that but right now they had no money to get food for their hungry and cold children. Now I was stumped.
I told him, ‘I really have no money to spare. Why don’t you check with the police?’ , I ventured again as a lame way out of this conundrum. They appeared poor and in need of help. But, I was unsure if I should buy the story. I didn’t think much then and I handed over the last big note I had in my wallet to him. They wanted more. To avoid further dilemmas, I walked away, shaking my head firmly.
As I walked away, I was confused. For starters, I felt quite terrible for doubting what could be a very genuine plight of a migrant family. It made me conscious of my prejudices. Was I so biased by the stories I hear and know that I always doubt first, before believing? On the other hand, what degree of credibility could I associate with his story?
What would you do in such a situation?