I was sitting on the Tanjore (aka Thanjavur) railway station, happy to oblige to a swarm of mosquitoes feeding on me, reading a novel, when I saw a well-dressed and educated man throw an empty container onto the railway track. He had just finished the can of fruit juice and it rattled me to think that a man of his culture resorted to throwing things at a convenient location as against basic human habits of throwing things in the dustbin. I mean it is so easy to throw wherever one wants to throw, isn’t it, but if the same person was in US or UK or Australia, he would ensure to throw only in the dustbin.
In any case, I didn’t say anything. I kept on reading. Until he threw again! That was too much for me to control! With a restraint on myself, lest I blasted him, I kept myself to myself. Thankfully, he opened up the conversation. He spoke to me asking if I was waiting for the same train as he. I said yes, and grateful that an opening had been provided, I asked him,
“I noticed that you threw two cans on the railway track. The dustbin is just a few feet away, there,” I said respectfully and pointed it out to him, wondering if he had any genuine reason to act the way he had done.
He was suddenly all remorse, and ashamed. He apologized profusely for the mistake he had done and said he won’t ever do it again.
I felt glad that I had told him. I felt good that he felt sorry. I felt happy that I had changed one person. I remembered something that I had read:
Many starfish washed up on shore. A saintly man started picking them up and throwing them back into the ocean. Someone saw what he was doing and told him that it was pointless, that there were too many to save, that it wouldn't make a difference. Throwing another starfish into the sea, the saintly man responded, "It makes a difference to this one".