Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!!

Dearest Blogdosts... I have begun the year in a reflective, contemplative mood.... feeling recharged, renewed and re-energised. It has been such a mellow and gentle start to what promises to be a very special year ( sssshhhh! more on that later!! ). New Year's Eve was spent in Alibag with the family. Well.... those members who were in town. Anandita and her four gal pals really livened up the cool and crisp evening, as they gathered under the gigantic X'Mas tree. We had planted this handsome specimen in the garden more than 20 years ago. It is now well over thirty feet tall! The five lovely and lively young girls danced their feet off ( I picked up a few new moves from them!) and the entire celebration was so very innocent and sweeeet. They had taken the trouble to dress up to the hilt.... forcing me to do the same! This morning over a late brunch, we talked about the year ahead.... their eyes were shining as they read their newspaper predictions for 2011.
Quite a different story from the little girl's that you are about to read.....
***************
Hello! Is anyone listening….?

Dear World,
Another year is about to end.And here I am…an anonymous girl child, shivering in the cold, hungry… exhausted…wondering what the new year will bring. More hunger? More fatigue? More despair?I can see my mother at the traffic light… she is tapping on the window panes of those fancy cars, hoping to attract a few coins… or if she annoys the owner enough, maybe a ten rupee note flung at her face to make her go away… leave the occupant to continue chatting on that small cell phone. My younger sister and brother are fast asleep on the pavement, near the old laundry. Our pet dog Moti has cuddled up close to them to keep warm. All of them are huddled on the corrugated sheets of cardboard we managed to steal from the packaging company close by. We are okay! We don’t know who our father is – we’ve never seen him. Our mother says she is twenty five years old and once worked in a rich person’s home as a housemaid. But from the time I was born, we have lived on this street and watched her beg. She has taught us to beg , too. When my brother was sick, I would tie him to my waist in a sling made out of rags, and carry him from car to car asking for alms. Some people took pity on us and gave me five hundred rupees. My mother felt really happy when she saw that note and told me to carry my brother around even after he became well. Then my sister had an accident while running across the road after the lights turned green and the cars roared past us in a hurry. It wasn’t the driver’s fault – she was so tiny, nobody saw her in the dark. But, that accident gave us a lot of money – over two thousand rupees. My mother was most happy that day… and even after my sister’s fractured arm healed, my mother told her to keep the plaster since people felt bad and kept giving more money.
These days my mother tells me to cover myself when I beg, since men stare at me and make dirty jokes. Ever since I started to bleed every month, my mother’s attitude has changed. She tells me I must not talk to any man or I’ll get into serious trouble. She also beats me a lot if she sees me chatting with customers who come to the laundry to pick up their clothes. It is dangerous, she says, and I don’t understand. These men are friendly and make me laugh. Some of them give me chocolates and ask me to get into their cars. But I can’t leave my brother and sister alone on the pavement, so I refuse. One day, when they are a little older and my mother isn’t looking, I am going to run away and make my own life. One ‘uncle’ has promised me! He said not to worry about anything. He will give me clothes, food, money… everything. He lives in a big house and he will keep me there… but he doesn’t want me to tell my mother anything. It is our secret, he keeps saying.
Maybe my life will change soon…I never cry and I haven’t lost hope. All I know is that I don’t want to spend my days begging on this road like my mother. She says her life is cursed because she was born female.She also says had she gone to school she would not be on the streets today. I would like to go to school and become someone someday. That ‘uncle’ told me he would arrange that once I leave my family and run away with him in his big car.Last week he gave me a brand new dress saying it is for the New Year. I have hidden it from my mother. He also gave me lipstick and powder saying I will look very pretty if I used both.I dare not try – my mother will kill me and ask too many questions. Never mind, in a few days from now, it will be another year… my mother has managed to get a few caps and whistles for me to sell at the next traffic junction where there are young people on motorcycles. She has taught me to clap, laugh and scream ‘Happy New Year’ each time a car stops. Let me practice now – ‘Happy New Year.”
I am sure someone, somewhere will hear my prayers… and wish me the same also. God is great!

29 comments:

Karan said...

I cant tell u that i am crying but i can tell u that this post has touched me deep!!! I'll save it and read it next time when i think i lack smth! there are people who dont even have enough clothes to cover thier body on a chilly night.

Death Pixie said...

Thats really something to reflect upon.....
Thank you Shobha De' for an amazing post!! =)

afterglow said...

THis couldn't have been said any better. Story of so many young girls on the road with dreams. Unfortunately nobody is looking out for them. As it is, girls days are not safe with family members, let alone on the road. Your narration is very touching.

simran said...

Hi Shobha de :-)
Happy New Year ...
Interesting post...This is the story of most of the poor girls at present time.

UjjwalRaaj said...

Fuck.

simran said...

I read this post and the entire memory flashed before my eyes where we see these beggars everyday but we never pay much heed to them ever. None of us could have ever understood what they go through. A heart felt story, but just reading doesn't help. We need to make this a better place for everybody.

manu said...

Hello Ma'am! This is my first ever post on your blog and am happy to start it with the New Year wishes :-) This, indeed, is a heart touching narration of what we see and feel everyday on the streets. I recently finished reading Speed Post, which is the first book of your's that I have read. Was curious to read your 'style' of writing, which I think is quite impressive! I sometimes write too, and its a humble wish that you read my writing sometime, if time permits (http://manu-urmishthajagtap.blogspot.com)

Fondly,
manu

cmpershad said...

`I am…an anonymous girl child, shivering in the cold, hungry… exhausted…'

... and here are people sitting pretty with their pretty pets in the cars with their ACs on so that the `outside pollution' does not touch then :(

Happy New year :)

bibhash k jha said...

God is great !
Only that God sees everything and laughs .
The girl . The Uncle . All are laughed at by God . Equal justice. Huh.

And God bless the new year , with another 25 million hungry faces carried forward for a period of godless and hopeless and 2011 .

Appu said...

A single post better than published book?
Or,
A published book better than a single post?

NAT said...

Dear Shobha,

Wish you & FAMILY A HAPPY NEW YEAR TOO, and A Prosperous one.

A lot of hearts must be bleeding for these poor souls. There are many who donate in good will, others with something in mind, to absolve themselves from sins....
However one should see that the funds really reach the right people/children and not any organization, any criminals.

It is a pity our Society has failed them. Our shameless government officials keep making money for themselves, instead of using it for easing these poor souls miseries.

As far as the girl child is concerned. It is so... pitiful, she is not even safe with the one who is supposed to protect her.

Cheers!

Norman

Yogesh Balaine said...

Dear Shobhaa,

I know it is a big problem but take heart cause it is soon going to end. You know we have only 10 or maybe 11 IPL teams as of today, which means only about 60-70 matches happen in a year. ie. 1 match in 5 days. The same is also true for the movies. Only 100 odd movies get launched in a year which means only 1 movie in 3 days. The Government / people of India need to focus on greatly improving these figues and you will be happy to know that we are moving in the right direction. Imagine if we have about 10 Lakh IPL Teams and about a lakh movies get launched every week, all of us would by so happy and absorbed that we wouldn't find time to peep out of the car window and have to see those awful things you just mentioned. But even if you happened to look out of your car window, I can bet my life that you will still not see them. Surprise. Surprise. No it's simple. Even they would be enjoying the fun - watching around the clock cricket or movies.

Happy New Year.

And I am thinking of writing something along these lines. You may join me if you are interested. Buzz me @ 9891005927

Tsomo85 said...

Happy New Year Shobhaa De! Wonderful post. Love reading your blog. If someone is capable and knows what is the real meaning of (rich & poor) even god doesn't have any problem with how much $$$$$ you can make. Ignorance is scary & it is like the buffer zone to fight against your fate. Everything is fair in love & war. Om Mani Padmai Hum.

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Radhika Gupta said...

what a touching post... i feel sorry for the girls in that kind of a state... nyways...a very happy new year to you!! keep writing always...

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Listening ....
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snigdha said...

beautiful...

mittika said...

this is not anything new! BUT IF YOU HAVE NOT TAKEN A STEP TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT AFTER KNOWING THIS THEN YOU SHOULD FEEL GUILTY AND TAKE A STEP.
YES THERE ARE MANY GIRLS LIKE THIS BUT YOU CAN MAKE DIFFERENCE IF YOU GIVE SOME OF YOUR TIME ,THERE ARE SO MANY NGOS YOU CAN JOIN AND HELP THESE GIRLS .NOW THE TIME IS FOR ALL TO ACT NOT ONLY WRITE ABOUT IT OR READ AND COMMENT .YES YOU CAN WRITE TO ME i CAN TELL YOU THE NGOS,WHO CAN HELP IN mUMBAI AND IN gOA.

Latha said...

If everyone thought of these kids, it could really be a happy new year. Otherwise new years don't matter to them except that they would be hearing some patakes bursting somewhere.
This reminded me of what Sujatha, the most famous writer of the South wrote once. He (used his wife's name as his psuedonym) once described in detail about a literary convention he had just attended. After which he had this to say, "We were returning home. Through the car window I saw a 6 yr old girl struggling to cover her 2 yr old brother with a thin sheet. It was Delhi. And it was winter. At that moment I felt that all this was a waste. I could burn all my writings if that would make enough fire to keep these 2 bodies warm.....
We all go through such feelings. But either we don't know how to help them or are afraid (or are rather sure) that our donations will be mishandled.
I was donating some money to an org which was supposed to take care of poor homeless children when I got a letter from the caretaker that he was building a temple. I am not against temples. But don't we have enough of them ? Should we spend the money given to better the lives of orphan children to fill this country with temples & churches ? Pehle roti, kapda, makaan. Phir dharm.

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*Aham* said...

you know i love you. now i love you even more.

:) de.. most times we think of providing the poor with rich pleasures... or money...

i feel what they need and strive for is dignity.

i have some bachhas i meet everday at the station. faces change, children remain. occasionally when i find time, ... i buy colddrink and give them half.... i drink the other half... i dont necessarily chat with them... i just have my drink... my JHOOTA drink.

some of them recognize me... at some other station... at some other pavement...

i forget, they remember...

one day when i was running helter shelter with an injured kabootar in my hand trying to find help.. a young girl held my fingers... took me to the kabootar khana near CST station.. and tells the caretaker there... "main vaapas aaongi... yeh udtha dikhna chaahiye..."...


i said to myself... "the kabootar has found its wings already... it just has to learn to take flight"

:)

sometimes De, we dont need to do complex things... we simply need to treat people without discrimination... treat them for a change, as humans of an equal god. and they become not a nuisance, but an agent for change. :) Positive change.



and yeah... discrimination is so unsexy... it is like poo poo.

Manjiri Kale said...

Dear Ma De...

Wish you very Happy new-year...

Manjiri

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