Whose responsibility are they?

On the Banjara Hills road which goes towards Hitech City, at Hyderabad, there is entertainment to occupy your attention while the traffic signal turns red. Some street children, some of them remarkably fair and beautiful (which makes Satya think they might be from up north), have taken to performing acrobatics on the street. They park themselves in front of vehicles as soon as the signal turns red and do somersaults or wiggle their hands behind their backs in weird ways. I dislike giving money to children, biscuits and food passing being better options in my head. Last week I dug my hand into my purse to find any change but couldn�t manage to get any before the signal turned green. Yesterday I gave two delighted kids, Rs.4 they scampered off with.

I remember the kids at Hamara Club in Bombay Central. Run by TISS, the visit to their centre had been part of my social volunteerism course. They had been overjoyed at the attention, as all kids usually are. There was little to distinguish them visibly from regular kids for they all looked like kids who had been out in the sun playing for long on a dusty day. But their tales set them apart. Leaving home because Mummy scolded, no food at home anyway, the 3 yr old twins who refused to go home, one who�d like to but cant remember home as he was too young when he left, with blackened knees and cracked skins, they had worn their best. They showed their paintings and boasted about their wounds. Look said one tot, pointing to a wound on his leg, 26 worms came out. He gladly mistook my look of shock and disgust for one of hero worship, and whispered to his pals that Didi thinks its mast. They smoked bidi and sniffed glue for addiction to kill hunger. 90% of them worked in the long-distance trains that plied from Mumbai Central. They roamed the world like they didn�t care, but always came back here. I had left with promises I�d go back instead I wrote a story that lies unpublished in my comp like all my other short stories.

Suresh always sent me pictures each time after he returned from Africa. I felt good while I volunteered for Power of Love (POL), I was getting to do what I wanted, my bit for the AIDS orphans. More than the elders I have always worried about them. Life ends before it begins for them, I thought. Then after POL realised that it doesn�t have to be so. Sub-Saharan Africa shook my soul. The situation in India scared me. Today we are not far behind. I wrote poems about those children (which are also lying unpublished in my comp).

Some of those children on the street will be AIDS orphans, wont they? But why am I thinking of all these kids now? I know, its because I am disgusted with myself, not them. As strongly as I feel about doing something for children apart from a few stray interactions and donations I am not doing much. And I feel guilty deep down for it. But thankfully above the emotion good sense prevails, I know I have time, I am only 25 now. I dont know if its my responsibility or no? But I feel like its mine. And your. And everyones. To do something for the,m in whatever capacity. I know, this is a burden, I won�t die carrying.

(Girls in the pics are students of Primary students at Patepuram,West Godavari District,Andhra Pradesh,India)

10 thoughts on “Whose responsibility are they?

  1. Nice post.

    Uma has a post on the street children in Bombay.

  2. Thanks Vishnu for your words and also for posting my link on Uma’s comments. Smiles.

  3. lovely post, Anita. brings to mind uncomfortable thoughts I would rather not think about… is ironical that these childrene xist not just in the poorer areas of the city but everywhere – banjara hlls, for instance, in such a place they would stand out even more starkly…

    and children with AIDS – like you say, dying without ever having seen life… and the stigma stays the same…

    (I finally land up at your blog – now that I am back in the land of the living and back to my cable internet :))

  4. Lets begin sharing humanity….

    Time can never make
    Careless whispers of a good thing
    To the heart and mine
    There is no comfort in the truth
    Pain is the whole you find

    Should have known better
    Every one feels so unsecure
    As we take your hand


  5. Anita….many of us have such thoughts…..and brush it under the carpet, or try to rationalize them. But I think it starts by first empathizing, and then understanding, and then doing what one cans, knowing that whatever one does is not going to be enough, but convinced that you are doing your best.

    And writing about it is a wonderful way to make others think about it as well.

  6. …. then doing what one cans..

    I mean, “then doing what one can”, of course 🙂

  7. Charu: Am glad you finally got here! It is ironical seeing those street kids contrasted against the moving scorpios and astras.

    Rakesh: Yes, it is necessary to increase your compassion factor.

    Sunil: I couldnt agree with you more. Empathizing, understanding are as important but have to be coupled with doing your best as you rightly said. I have something cooking up in my head. Its a long term vision and hopefully will see fulfillment. Till then volunteering time and money is what I do, and I hope others will too.

  8. I felt touched reading your thoughts. I have lots of time hanging on my hands and I have inclination to do something. I am clueless, where does one start? Any suggestions?

  9. I feel the same as Monteiro. Working for children is something that i have been thinking of for quite sometime. This is not all. Tiger conservation, women issues, domestic violence etc are some of the things that i feel need attention. However when i think of contributing through NGOs, I’m told that almost 99% of them are bogus. Bottomline: How can i help. I’m a journalist by profession.

  10. Sim: Thanks for writing in. Not all NGO’s are bogus. There are some which truly do excellent work. But yes you will need to spend some time discovering the good from the bad. Only personal interactions will help you figure out which ones are serious about the cause they are working for.

    As about the issues you feel strongly about, I recently posted about a excellent documentary I saw on Tiger Conservation. I wrote to the film-maker and posed the same what-can-I-do question to him .. His reply is in the blog post, do look it up..

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