Thursday, October 22, 2009
A Roadside Cameo
New people, new things, new experiences each day. Multiplexes, shopping malls, entertainment, Shahrukh Khan ruling hearts from posters, Ganguly – Dravid, Ronaldo, Information Technology. Lights, camera, fiction. Precisely this is what our daily life in the city is all about. Dazzling, isn’t it ? A life of glitz and glamour, gadgets and gossip. Yet there exists a different panorama of the everyday life of everyday people. A life of poverty and deprivation, illiteracy and hunger. A different story in the same old city.
You can see them almost anywhere in our City of Joy. Thin limbs, fragile structures, malnourished, with no scope to boast of a childhood, let alone a healthy one. Aboding the city streets, with a yearning for knowledge and a silent cry for love and care, they are the street children of Kolkata. Hard at ‘work’ the whole day, these children can’t even dare to dream of living a healthy, cheerful childhood. Some are rag pickers, some work in hotels, some are manual laborers, some just beg. The bones in the bag can well be counted, dressed in a ragged piece of cloth, these kids slave away trying to earn a square meal a day. Hidden away in the debris of ‘development’, you can see a bunch of them opposite the luxuriant spring club on E.M. Bypass. And at Jadavpur. And Gariahat. Tollygunje, Park Circus, Dalhousie….
Look once into their eyes and you will find a twinkle of intelligence and eagerness to know, to search, to learn. Look once more and you will find dejection and poverty. Maybe you will look once again, maybe not. You will say to yourself – “poor kids…” and leaving the sentence there, you’ll return to your daily life, too wrapped up in your work to spare another thought or a moment. I know I will do the same. Perhaps we all will fell, but that’s that. There will be nothing beyond that. A sigh is the maximum we can spare, or a melancholy stare, but the moment we return to the hustle and bustle of the urban world, all we can worry about is our work, our salary, our children, our social engagements. Once we return, the picture of their misery just fades, and we are left to be blissfully oblivious once again. Till the next time we are caught up in a traffic jam and a thin hand is extended inside our cars.
The process goes on. Ends in a circle. Never ends, perhaps. Who knows ? Who cares?