Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Irony or Destiny

I am the last person to be discussing anything of grave importance in my blog .I had intended this blog to be a place where i can share my experiences with a humorous perspective. Guess, in this society, it is totally unnatural to be quiet and not mention it when you see it happening all around you.

Inspiration for bringing out this serious side of me in my blog - http://vishshanker.sulekha.com/blog/post/2009/02/this-happened-in-bangalore-bengaluru-shocking.htm .
The above link had been forwaded to me by a friend and was the first mail i read when i returned to my seat after a scrumptious lunch. Must say, the food digested almost immediately and for the first time in my life, i could feel a rage in me which i never knew existed in me. And for the first time in my life, i have started seeing my country as what it does not deserve to be seen as, but sadly is perceived as, around the globe. I always had a curtain in front of my eyes and like any other indian with the basic comforts of life, refused to lift the curtain and see the pathetic state we are in.

Day in and day out, every image which passes my way are constant reminders of the degraded state we are in. Just a gentle walkthrough of one day in my life and i am sure all of you will agree with me.

7 AM -
After much rushing and struggling, i rush to catch my office shuttle which comes nearly half a km from my house. The minute i step out of my house, the first scene to catch my eye every day is that of a garbage collection trolley with around 4 to 6 bins stacked on it, around the corner. The first few times i saw it, i never gave it another look.But one day, something amidst the bins stirred and i presumed it was a stray dog ransacking the leftovers.But to my horror and shock, when i neared the trolley, i could see two human kids, one a girl, around 4 yrs of age and the other a baby hardly 6-8 months of age. I was frantic and it was a rush of many thoughts in my head .Were these kids abandoned? Are they just lost? what are they doing in a garbage collection trolley? While i was trying to sort out the situation in my head, i saw a lady dressed in the 'corporation uniform' approach with a fresh load of stacked bins and she just lifted the baby and kept the bin there. After much thinking, the only logical connection i could manage was that, she is the mother and since she dint want to leave the kids alone, she took them along while she attended to her work.After that, i see them everyday.The little girl has become familiar to the locality and instead of sitting in the trolley looking at her baby brother, she has started venturing out and exploring the area. A gentle smile is what i offer her and she reciprocates with her scared eyes and firmed mouth.

7:10 AM -
Finally i have managed to reach the designated place where i board my office shuttle. With still over 5 minutes for the bus to arrive, i stand to take in my morning surrounding. The same set of corporate employees waiting for their conveyance, the same employee clearing out and cleaning the vodafone office for the day's rush, the same cobbler setting up his stall. Everything was same, until that day, when we all heard a small voice shouting out 'Chaiii'. Almost immediately, every corporate head out there turned to look in the direction of the little voice. A young boy who looked hardly 7, carrying a big packet of paper cups and a huge flask, was running towards our direction. The little boy approached every single person there and repeatedly asked to buy a cup of coffee.All the heads which had turned in his direction, immediately became occupied in either tuning into whatever stations their mobile headfones could get or back to reading the morning newspaper. One gentleman, i saw, was starting up a conversation with the little kid and was buying the cup of tea [Which,by the way, cost only 3 rs a cup]. As the kid approached us, me and my friend, tried to talk to him in whatever little broken kannada we could manage. I guess he figured we would be interested in buying the tea and he was busy pouring out two cups,heedless of our 'Kanglish' questions. The earlier gentleman, seeing our struggle, came forward and was giving us the answers. He was 'Kamal', 9 years, attended school for a year[apparently sometime long ago], his father had passed away, his only family was his mother and younger sister. Mother was working as a household help somewhere and was recently taken ill. So little kamal was helping his mother in treating his mother's illness and his sister to attend school. Mornings and evenings he worked serving tea and the rest of the day, he apparently engaged in whatever odd jobs he could get. When asked what these odd jobs were, he replied in kannada and our friend translated it to mean that he worked in carrying loads at the flyover worksites or in any other construction site. Even with the cup of hot tea in my hand, i could barely control the chill which ran through me.
Glad to notice, that on almost every mornings after that, whether required or not, the bus-waiting employees buy one cup of tea from little kamal.

8:00 AM -
On the way to my office in whitefield, there is this one strech of road after the CMR institute of technology where the traffic is really blocked and every vehicle comes to a standstill for about 5-10 minutes around 8 in the morning. Alongside this road, there is this group of people who have set up some ayurvedic camp,a little distance away is a group of people who display their clay articles for sale,further away is a cluster of cane furniture kept for sale and still further are people running small shops which serve food. It was amidst the cane furnitures that i saw him for the first time. Head bent over in deep concentration, hands nimbly running in and out tying up the cane sticks to weave out a cane chair. Our bus was caught in traffic and i was admiring the way in which that small fingers was very deftly creating something very beautiful.It became almost a regular routine to see the little artist caught in some work or the other every morning. One morning it was a paper mache ganapthy that he was creating while the next day it was a lovely painting on a clay pot. On that unfortunate morning, while our bus was caught in the usual traffic in the usual place, i could see that our little artist dint have any creativity to be engaged in and since his mind was free, he was glancing at all the vehicles stuck in traffic. Slowly as i watched, i could see that his head was turned to his left and he was constantly staring at something. On following his glance, i could see that it was a white Honda Civic car with its black windows rolled up,which had caught his attention. The car had been parked in the side and the driver of the car was having breakfast at one of the small shops close by, while enjoying a chat with the other people around. The little boy slowly rose from his place and was moving towards the car. I could see him as he walked towards the car and stood by it admiring it. As he raised his hands to run his fingers over the magnificient car, out of nowhere, the driver and his accomplices who were eating,were by his side and hurling heavy blows on the little kid. Lot of shouting in kannada and more blows on the puny figure. As my bus started to move, the last i saw of the little artist, was a mud covered puny figure sprawled on the floor and a bunch of huge men bent over him. What was the mistake that the little boy did? That he was losing out on his childhood by working and earning a living? All the days i had seen him there, i had never seen any adult anywhere near his vicinity. While other boys his age went to school and played with expensive toy cars, was this kid deprived of even letting his talented fingers marvel another man's creation? His reward for the endless hours he spent creating all those marvelous artificats was to be pelted by people who dint know him for the artist that he was. Sad to say, from the next day onwards, i dint see anymore clay artificats lining the road or any cane chairs either. I cannot help but wonder of the little artist.

8 to 5 is the time i am in the cool comforts of my office and with like minded people, the time of the day when i forget the scenes of the mornings.
By the time i board my shuttle at 5 in the evening for the long journey back home, i prepare myself to savour the 1 and half hr of the day i get for myself.

It is around 6:15 when we reach the Sony world signal near koramangala. I am sure this is a very common sight for most people stuck in bangalore traffic. Small, petite,nimble figures with huge rings running in the traffic to find a little gap, where they can start their performance. While one kid branded with a 'Dholka' starts beating to some random tune, the other kid, usually a girl around 3-4 yrs of age, deftly displays her nimbleness by moving in and out of the ring. As soon as the traffic starts moving, these kids run in and out of the moving vehicles to see if anyone has taken pity on them and give them money. On one such incident, when i was about to hand out some money to the little girl, my friend gently reprimanded me and told me to keep the money back in. Instead she took out a packet of biscuits which she had and handed it out to the kid. Even though she dint mention it, i understood her gesture. These kids perform and get the money, but they hardly get a rupee's worth at the end of the day.

I am not proud of myself for being a witness to all these incidents. Nor am i happy about the fact that i couldn't do much to alter the lives of these little ones who unknowingly came to be a part of my life. But today i see that, not just kids, but every human out here is under the threat. Threat to be subordinate to someone else with money or power, threat of losing all your live's worth in a single act either by mother nature or the other forces around which rule us. No man makes his destiny. No man lives his life's worth. Is it just really so bad in our country? Even in the dire economic crisis in the world today, i see that atleast human life has value in other countries. It is only here that no life is valued, no voice is heard, no act is returned. It is just a mad rush for god-knows-what and to win a race of which no one is a part and the end is not known, nor is there a prize to be won at the end.


Jeela said...

hi dips
i absolutely loved this article(if i may call it that). it breaks my heart day in and day out to see kids sufffering be it anywhere in the world...i really really wish i could do something about it to end their suffering. last day i was just going through a website and there was this video of 2 policemen in india who were pulling the hair of a small girl about 3 or 4 years of age and she was juts crying out loud in pain. that poor girl was my daughters age and i cried so much seeing that.... if i was there at that moment i would have killed those people for hurting her. now writing this to you itself i am crying thinking of it.

just wanted to share my thoughts with you. thank you and keep it up

Deepthi Rajagopal said...

hey jeelz.... i totally agree with you my dear.Nothing hurts more than seeing such innocent souls being tortured, for no fault of theirs. This article was just an inspiration for all of us(the lucky few who dint have to go through any of that) to help in their sweet way in making the lives of these little ones easier!