Tuesday, January 22, 2008

At the crossroad

The topic on Writer's Island this week was crossroads. I told myself I wont write this week... have just been writing too much, so maybe I will give it a break? But this image kept coming back to my mind and I had to put it down on paper!!

The word crossroads brings to my mind the crossroad in Adayar Chennai. If you know Chennai, it is the cross roads between Adayar and Thiruvanmaiyur at the end of LB road. It was a sultry afternoon and we sat in our Air conditioned SUV windows rolled up.. oblivious to the scorching heat outside. On my lap sat Nantu a little more than a year old at that time. We had stopped at the signal and were waiting for the green light. Nantu started to get excited and started tapping at the window. I looked at what was attracting him so much.
(Pict Courtesy: http://www.gseart.com/exh/exh_invt.asp?ExhID=491)

There beyond a few cars stood a lady in rags, carrying an equally bedraggled child of about 2-3 looking so undernourished and sad. As Nantu jumped up and down in my lap beckoning to the kid, the kid stared unswervingly at Nantu. It was an expressionless face that stopped my heart.. I am sure the child was hungry and tired from the heat... but whats more he seemed to be so listless and lacking in energy at such an young age.. This image has stayed with me ever since.. the big round eyes staring at us! On that day, I dug up a few coins and handed it to the lady. The signal changed and we moved on.

I then commented to DH "What was the kids mistake.. just by virtue of his birth he is deprived of the basic necessities and at a similar age our son is bathed in luxuries by virtue of his birth. What an unfair world!!" I went on to say "I blame his parents, did they have to bring him into the world, knowing fully well they couldn't support him". DH responded "Just because they are poor or on the roads do you expect them to stop living? Besides I bet they can't afford protection".

I have thought and thought about how to end this? What do we do to help such children.. each one of us can make a difference.. and many I know try.. by sponsoring a child, by giving monetary support.. but does it help? We still see many such scenes. And it is not just India. I was once in downtown San Jose on a Sunday morning and the number of homeless in the parks there was mind boggling. Will this ever change?

27 comments:

DotMom said...

the reasons for homelessness here and in india are quite different.. but don't get me started on what to do... it will be on long comment.

Just Jen said...

I'm glad you wrote this and I'm surprised to see I'm the first commenter. This is something to think about and it should be more prevalant on people's minds.
I would love to have your problem of writing too much! ;)

Just Jen said...

oh, dotmom showed up at the same as time as me, so I'm not first afterall...LOL

Preethi said...

Dotmom - I do know what you are talking about.. I was once walking down SFO downtown and I saw this homeless guy with a board that read "Need money for Beer" and about a dozen passers by actually giving him the money for it!! And I thought to myself of the homeless in the rest of the world... :)
Just Jen - It is something to think about indeed.. and like I said in a recent post, it is time to think of how we do take life for granted!!!

keith hillman said...

It's the same the world over. OK, so poverty in some countries is far more serious than others, but 'to have' and 'to have not' is the natural order of things.

I too seem to be writing more and more. If I carry on at this rate I'll have to learn how to type with TWO fingers. I've nearly worn this little digit out!

Herb Urban said...

Very moving piece. I don't know why some many children are born into hopeless situations, or what can be done. Poverty is a global problem and few leaders have the political will to address it, assuming there is the solution is political. Apathy seems to be the largest barrier. I wish there was an easy solution.

rayshma said...

let's not talk of people i see at signals here. i once saw a dude outside a store at the mall *a day before the iPhone was launched* holding a sign saying: "need money to buy iPhone."
in india, i honestly don't know what wud be a solution. i do my bit and hope others do theirs...
and heyy, no amount of writing is too much! :)

UL said...

oh this is a heart rendering tale Preethi, DH's right...'one cant stop living life'...but what can the world do to improve the condition..its not going to go away, we will all have to do what little we can to fix it or make it better.

Preethi said...

Keith - Well said.. as for the writing.. keep them coming and use all your fingers ;)
Herb Urban - Is it really Apathy? Then is socialism a solution?? I don't know!
Rayshma - I know what you mean.. read my answer to Dotmom
UL - Well put.. but little is not enough.. like Herb Urban says there needs to be a huge push.. it is indeed a global problem

paris parfait said...

It is a terrible problem, no matter where one travels in the world. People are homeless for many reasons: poverty, mental illness. I hate the terrible divisions between the haves and have-nots in this world. A very thought-provoking piece.

tumblewords said...

Sad little tale and the knowing that there are so many more is heart wrenching. I think it's always been so, but communications make it seem more prevalent - well, that and the increasing population so it becomes more visible. It does appear that some of the haves walk with closed eyes.

Marja said...

With this question I struggle a lot. When you start out like this in life your changes are so small and even if we make a few lifes easier It's just a drop. Wish I knew the answer

Thinking aloud said...

hey preethi..u know something, when i saw teh prompt, this image of the begagr children came into my mind...then my magical day hapepned and i was too happy to write something so sad...

but yeah, everytime my heart breaks when i see them so little but yet so adult-like...beggars are a serious issue..if only it could be considered as such..I wish...

2B's mommy said...

I don't know what to say, I feel really sad but then very angry too as these people really don't want to improve their living conditions. Once when I was in India, I tried to offer one of them to work as a maid (since obviously she wasn't educated to get an office job) thinking that atleast it will solve some of her problem and I needed a maid too, but you know what the beggar said - aapko paise dena hai toh doh nahi toh jao yahan se, humara time kyon waste kar rahe ho( give money if you want otherwise go and don't waste my time!). Most of the time they don't want to work for money since begging is easy money and they bring their babies to invite pity and hence more money.

You try doing your part for once to make it better for them and let me know what response you get. I have come to the conclusion that these are lazy people who don't want to work and they blow the money they get on drinking at night rather than getting books for their child. I do feel really sad for the children though, but my dad explains it in terms of 'previous birth karma' otherwise why would one child suffer because of poverty and the other one is born in a comfortable home, they are still babies and have not done any wrong to deserve such suffering. That's a spiritual explaination but it doesn't lessen the pain of seeing another human being in such condition. My hear goes out for such kids/babies.

Orchid said...

loaded topic ! but glad someone's asking these questions :)

Aryan said...

Yes what 2'b mommy say is very true. They only look for temporary pleasure..they drink and enjoy with the money they get.. Even I wrote a story on these lines..but I can't post it in Aryan's blog..as that is his blog..But this incident is really touching..
JUst one sentence for us: "Kadamayai chei, balanayai yedurpakadai.."

Rambler said...

you know what I really liked DH's response... As far as your question as to what we can do..try anything we can, try to give them things in kind rather than cash, many a times it never reached them.. instead try to feed them, or may be old clothes and stuff.

Sumana said...

I can understand, it is miserable to see somebody homeless and especially underfed and hungry. May be each of us should try to make an attempt to help and that might make a little difference and give one a lot of satisfaction.

The TAAMommy said...

This post and the source of the post brought tears to my eyes. And when we know the people who are truly suffering, who cannot afford basic amenities, we as educated, affordable beings should hold our head up high in the midst of our so called sufferings, and consider us very fortunate and do the best with what life bestows on us. And help as much as we can, the people around you in ways money cannot. like a smile to a passer by, opening the door, being nice to your inlaws and relatives and yet holding firmly when you are taken advantage of, but still giving freely of yourself. We can bring a lot of happiness to us and the people around us and if everyone chooses to do that, the world will be a better place. There is a quote hanging at the YMCA and is so true.
“No one can help everyone, but everyone can help someone." Thank you for the post and the opportunity to comment.

Preethi said...

Paris - Well said, thank you!!
Tumble words - Yes it does seem like our eyes are closed.. and it probably is most times!! In the daily trials of life!!
Marja - Drops of water do make up the ocean!
TA - Yeah I know what you mean.. its that expression that has stayed with me all these years!!
2BM - I have heard many such stories.. there are some who don't want to be helped.. but for those who want to be helped.. and will be able to better their circumstances through our help, we could be there!!
Orchid - Thanks!!

Preethi said...

Aryan's mom - Very well said.. It is indeed our kadamai (duty) to help the downtrodden
Rambler - There are institutions which reach out to the real needy.. we just need to find them.. Infosys Chennai has a social service group called Sneham. Similarly other IT organisations over India are starting such help groups!! Most are genuine and really reach the needy!
Sumana - Every little gesture does count!!
taamommy - Very interesting point.. yes our troubles do pale in view of their big trials don't they!! :)

rebecca said...

lives that are led like this do provoke much philosophical thought...why do some have all and some none at all?

but unfortunately this will be until the end of time. but during our stay here, we each must do our best to make our fellow brothers' and sisters' life easier. it is simply our responsibility towards the community of mankind.

thank you for sharing this with us.

Prats said...

I can understand how you feel....living in India, we see this everywhere...and though there are programs that are being organised to help them, most times, its being misused.
So in the end, the situation coems back to square one.

But the sight of a lady beggar at a signal with a child in arms, is so heartening....cos the child is compromised. I have seen a lady, at the same junction here, with different kids ..for the last 10 years.... will never know how to react to such issues...



And why feel bothered that you write too much....thats a blessing...don't throw it away....keep writing, and we'll keep reading :)

Gauri said...

And many a times these little children are "used" to get alms/money from people when the vehicles stop at traffic signals.

Heartbreaking - when one looks at the children and what the future has in store for them.

Preethi said...

Rebecca - well put "it is simply our responsibility towards the community of mankind." .. I couldn't agree more!!
Prats - Yeah and that was my stand... how can we not blame them for bringing all those children into the world? As for writing.. there seems to be no choice in the matter ;)
Gauri - It is heart breaking.. after all they are children and it is by virtue of their birth that they have reaped this punishment!! That really gets to me!!

Vishnupriya Janardhanan said...

Sad isn't it??And we can't really solve it. . .

Preethi said...

A truly heartfelt post.
We are all thinking about it right. See how helpless we feel! That kills me. I really wonder about all those people who give up the comforts of their life and really make a difference. Do meaningful social work. I cannot do that. I can feel for the poor but cannot get into the arena and truly help. Why? I'm sure the moment i leave this comment box and read your next post it has already left my mind.....