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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Night With The Homeless

It is based on a real life experience…. 
 
The daily obscure phenomena called our jobs, our family, our pet, our game of Cricket where India loses more often than otherwise, our car which got a scratch, our geyser not working on a winter morning, our belittling towards the apathy of the Railways to serve us last year’s stale Daal or even our ever pertinent nagging wives; initiatives us to lose the focus on life. The real life where people fight day-in and day-out to meet their basics of survival. A day for many where it starts with a hope of having something to fill their starving stomach by day end and invariably ending with going to bed with exactly the opposite. A day or rather a night where there is nothing over their head to protect them from the excruciating winter that we well groomed feel too pinching, still being inside the comforts of our homes.
 
Have we ever thought about the millions of homeless who were forced to go through the unachievable task of dulling the ferocious mother nature with nothing much than a hope to survive the winter so that the spring can be a little less cruel? Perhaps not or else we would have already done something for them long back.
 
The persistent vouching of few media channels to come forward and help those who can’t help themselves, so that the winter goes a little easy on them; I made my bit of exploration to figure out how fair our news channels are when it comes to the plight of the poor or it is just another of those gimmicks where self exaltation and that false sense of déjà vu taking the better of the core ideology of execrating good for the needy.
 
A night of my adventure to beat the nasty cold at its own backyard, threw across many uncomfortable questions, both morally and in all literal sense physically as well.
 
On a blasé visit around the city pavements last week, I happened to meet a Rickshaw puller named Iqbal who dwells in and around the station area. Iqbal is from a place called Meerut in Uttar Pradesh and for last eight years had made the city of Pune his second home (without any home of course). On a derisory daily income of Rs 50/-; thanks to the rise in the number of Autorickshaws, he had to survive along with his wife and two kids. The pain and struggle to live another day was all but evident from the very appearance of his.
 
It was just Ten in the evening and the winter cold was already getting evident. A city like Pune which never had any record of unbearable cold was been thrown out of gear because of some unprecedented cold wave flowing across the north part of our country. A place where the night temperature was regularly going below seven degrees, it was all but uncomfortable to weather the brunt for a family of four who doesn’t have more than just a torn out blanket, donated by someone and less than half filled stomachs.
 
Iqbal had long parked his Rickshaw in the corner of the pavement which they call their home as no further income for the day insight. The sight of a tiny conflagration going in the middle with his wife and two kids surrounding it to keep a part of their body worm so that they don’t go numb was disheartening. Iqbal, looking around in a jittery to accumulate any abandoned piece of wood or paper so that the fire can be kept lit for as long a period as it can be. No food insight or no preparation to cook something for the night either.
 
After observing from a distance for a long time I finally did mustered enough courage to go near and try touching the most throbbing part of their sentiments. Have you eaten something? I finally asked. A vacuumed but all expressive eight yes looked at me with a mixture of hope, aspiration and in all probability hate as well. Did I asked something which I shouldn’t have? I wondered. NO - Breaking my thoughts; came a rough and stoned reply. My wife would be going to the nearby Gurdwara soon to see if she can find something to eat from the lunger; an equally stoned elaboration followed, which I am sure was never in want of any eloquence or articulation to justify the inherent pain and dejection laced with each word of it. If she doesn’t find anything? I finally asked after a brief deliberation. The silence that engulfed was suggestive enough of the helplessness of an eventuality that I just put forward.
 
Can I borrow you some food, I asked, not trying to be too politically correct. Accepting the favor from a complete stranger was not too comforting for the family it seemed. I persisted with my pledge which eventually made Iqbal agree to my offer. An Rs 100/- in his hand he almost ran towards the nearby eatery to pack some food for his already starving kids. The unmentionable details which I am confident the words would fail miserably to elaborate the satisfaction of having some food right in front of them to eat, should rather be left undetailed. I never disturbed the family in their dinner and went away for a smoke.
 
Just when I was about to move out, a gentle ‘Thank You’ from the stoned voice made me look back. I didn’t even tried to say ‘My Pleasure’, as I somewhere felt ashamed to say this to a fellow countryman of mine for whom the country, the government and most important all of us have done absolutely nothing. Perhaps Iqbal thought of opening his heart out to me on his suffering and plight against the favor of mine. Perhaps he wanted to pay back the debt the best way he can at that present moment. It took a good half an hour for him to elaborate his painful journey from Meerut to Pune via Delhi where he lost his only son due to the bitter Delhi cold. Let me not elaborate his other plights in detail as it not only would disturb me, but sure would disturb many others and as it is I don’t errand too much in interfering in someone’s privacy and pain. But overall the details were grossly disconcerting; let me assure you of that.
 
It was well into midnight when I left the family on the pavement and let them prepare to go to bed barely covering themselves in that torn out blanket. Well it is just a city pavement for all of us where as it is the very lifeline for Iqbal and many like him.
 
On my way back, what that crossed my mind was – can’t we the so called affluent of the society do something for them? Well the answer is a big YES. As a starter, can’t we donate our unused winter wears and blankets to those who don’t have anything to wear, let alone any warm wear? Our individual minimalistic effort may seem inadequate, but as they ‘HOW LITTLE IT MAY BE, WE CAN STILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE’. A difference where we can see our own men not at least dying of cold; just because they don’t have a roof on their head. Want to help? Below is where you can ping in. Please, we are not that inconsiderate; are we?
 
Concern India Foundation
240, MG Road
Camp, Pune
Landmark – Above V Mukesh & Company
Phone – 020- 41315326/32343942

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4 comments :

  1. As someone suggested me. You don't really have to depend on NGOs to gift your donations. Just take an hour break from your daily chores over the weekend; drive to places where these homeless people are and donate yourself.

    Believe me, it is more joyful than spending the evening inside a multiplex with a popcorn tub in hand....

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very true DJ. Thus we can make sure our donation reaches the homeless, unlike giving it to an NGO.

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  3. These homeless people are Bangladeshi refugee.These are creating panic & extra burden to our country.They should all be thrown out instead of your meaning less sympathy.

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  4. am a random reader....lemme share some facts.....we r so busy with our lives but we all have a heart..this is the softest target for all NGOs n we give away to their pleads and requests but this all goes into their "well known clandestine motives"....as rightly pointed out....any help to the needy done by self is way worthy a deed indeed!

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