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 I had left with promises I�d go back instead I wrote a story that lies unpublished in my comp like all my other short stories.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 I wrote poems about those children (which are also lying unpublished in my comp).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)