Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I live in Bombay ( Mumbai, if you like). It has been a year now.

And every day I travel by an auto from my home to my place of work.

This 15-20 mins of my life have proved to be the best education that I have ever got and am still getting...( Ah...you are thinking there is someone else going to write about the traffic jams, travails of travelling, mumbaikar spirit etc etc...Hmmm...I am not going to write about any of this and more, there are lots of intelligent and not-so-intelligent people commenting, raving and ranting about all this, so much so that i dont know what to make out of it !)

Well, I am just going to write about what I see, without judging and what I feel, without embellishment...

I regularly see a boy begging with a small child tied in a cloth around him with an empty feeding bottle in his hand. The boy must be around 11-12 yrs and the small child about 4-5 months old.

We all encounter worse scenes of poverty in our everyday life and most of us feel angry,sad, sympathetic ( and maybe give them a coin or two or something to eat, if we are not staunch opposers to begging or for some they are thieves) ...I am not an exception. I have also been conditioned into seeing with unseeing eyes and quieting my conscience after some moments when my attention gets distracted...

This was different.

For sure, it was not any peculiarity or striking character of the two children that have struck me...they are ordinary and do the ordinary tricks to get your attention...neither is it that I suddenly feel the need to be more humanitarian. This has stirred something more basic, something more primitive and elemental, which I do not know.

Everyday I search for these kids when I reach the signal..I hope to see them, and feel relieved if I do. For them, I represent the rich, the 'haves', the unfairness of life. I may donate, volunteer, help as much as I can. It is not enough. Anything I do will not change this. And the truth remains.

Will they always remain beggars...grow up to be thieves and goondas, maybe ? Will they always go hungry to sleep..? Will they ever have a new dress...a toy....a home ? Will they ever laugh..learn..read..write...? Will they ever have the innocence of childhood ?

Can I change any of this..the present...the future...can I give them hope... ?

The small child is always sleeping when I see them. When he awakes, will I be able to look him in the eyes ? Will you be ?