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Empathy or Altruism?

In the diaspora of anarchy and disorientation, aren’t we all obliterating “empathy”? But again, what is empathy when we refuse to adhere to the needs of others but smother ourselves in our smoulders of boredom and stinginess? Aren’t we consumed in our overwhelmingly puny existence which only enthrals our respective placebos and amazes our dumbfounded delusions? Aren’t we frustrated about being prisoned in our lives of miraged chimaeras and disgusted with the idea of altruism? But, just when we think we might be altruistic, we objectify our flights of imagination and musings of hopeless joy. But empathy, which is an authoritative tool that compels our aspirations with respect to our hopelessly chaotic environment but simultaneously obliging us to trample over our companions in order to extend our scarce emotions and reach for our deranged and pretentious achievements.

So, what is empathy and why do we need it? We don’t, because wouldn’t we care less about what others think or what others feel because our impulsively combative acts only permit us to witness our forthcomings. And what is altruism? Why aren’t people actually altruistic? Why am I not altruistic? Or should I be, or should you be? Or shouldn’t we all be? People might even help strangers for various non-altruistic reasons and underlying motives. But, what about charity and what about our human desires to actually help someone selflessly? This helps me remember Mansi, crying with her bruised face and hand as she got on a random train as her only approach to escape her abuser. A fourteen-year-old married girl who was physically and sexually abused by her alcoholic husband. She randomly sat in our ladies compartment while travelling from Pune to Bangalore, clueless about where she was heading and who’d sell her next.

As the women in our compartment decided to contribute to her accommodation for the night, Mansi didn’t say a word until she was probed several times to answer simple questions about her escape plan, to which she was discombobulated. I wanted to help her, I guess. I don’t know. I wanted to make sure she’d survive in a city that she was more than doubtful about, I guess. So, I took up the responsibility to find her a safe space in my city and released her free in an NGO that I was well aware of. But, as the years passed, I had forgotten about her existence and identity.

Two years later, little did I know, I would hear a soft, daft voice on my way to college in a local BMTC bus, this girl calling out my name, and as I turned back, expecting to see a fellow-college mate with a frown, I saw her. Mansi stood there in a school uniform, with a backpack and the widest smile I’d ever seen. As she stood there, determined and powerful, my eyes became sparingly teary unexpectedly. “I’m in 10th standard”, she said without breaking away her delightful smile. And all I could do was hug her. It’s the least I could have done. You know what, you can’t help people who don’t want to be helped, but how to do you identify the people who really yearn for that help? You can’t, isn’t it? But the only thing Mansi taught me throughout the years was when you help selflessly, and sometimes, forget about it, you are never forgotten. That is what altruism is to me. So, what does altruism mean to you?

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