Window With a View.
Yesterday, late evening I had been to NIMHANS to meet a person for a casual visit. This gentleman, Dr.N is one of my father’s friends, someone with whom my father had spent his school days and that relationship continues to this day. Today Dr.N heads the Dept of Psychiatry in this esteemed and reputed hospital. I often visit him, as he calls me to his place to have food and just spend some time. Dr.N, his wife and children are more or less part of my family. Staying away, I visit him on and off to get the feel of home and what I like the most about the family is the simplicity and meaningful deeper relationship.
As I entered the NIMHANS campus and was going towards the doctors’ quarters, it suddenly started raining, the rain drops falling with force and it actually hit hard. To avoid the rain, I took shelter in a newly constructed building around which a new hospital block is being built. There I saw this family, a father, a mother and two kids. One of the kids was around seven years old [Raju] and this cute sweetheart [Laxmi]in the pic is barely less than a year old. The mound of sand, with a blanket on top was the kid’s playground. Since it was raining now, the mother of the baby, immediately got a bed sheet stitched out of the cement bags and placed it over the blanket. The child was playing with an old plastic tiffin box. She was blushing, smiling, and completely carefree lost in her own world, only to constringe herself when she heard a sudden holloa of thunder.
To my understanding, although the material deprivation experienced by this child is often impossible to precisely quantify, it was apparent that she was using this open environment to sustain normal behavioral development and life. She may be completely oblivious of this fact but I feel she had learnt it that life is not going to be easy for her in future and she has to struggle. Her chubby legs, smeared with mud, adorned with skintight ankle bracelets were making small movements, as she was not able to walk. She was crawling.
It continued to rain for another half an hour and I was basking in this simple umbrella of togetherness. The wife of the laborer made tea and all three of us sipped from the broken cups. The kids took sips, from the parent's cups. I was pretty comfortable in their company, and the feeling of consciousness and discomfort disappeared from the laborer’s wife face, the moment I said, 'Chai badiya hai'. The family though hailing from North Karnataka, had picked up few words in Hindi and so our communication channel was not stymied.
Later when the rain subsided a bit, I took the two kids to a small shop within the NIMHANS campus and got chocolates for both of them. The elder one started munching the chocolate as soon as he got it. The other cute one was struggling to peel off the cover. But once she had the chocolate in her hand, it was she and the saliva mixed with chocolate streaming out of her mouth. Intermittently she was kissing me on my cheek. Awesome: rain, tea and now this cute baby.
Before leaving them and rushing towards the campus colony, I thanked the parents and requested them to take care of these two gentle souls. But I have a small confession to make, while I was proceeding towards doctor uncle's house, a question came to my mind. Another three months after the first rains, once the construction at the site gets over, this family would move on, and so also the children wedged in between struggling life and survival. The way ahead is not easy, predictable or certain but then life goes on. Also a question kept pinging in my mind, did I do the right thing by offering the kids chocolates. Well for me, it was simple joy and few moments of ethereal bliss ness. But what if the kids ask the parents, the same stuff the next day, what are they going to do?
On one side are materialism, modern life and commerce, accelerating at a breakneck speed. Plenitude of fortune, accumulation of gigantic power, and intense self-pursuits defines life for one segment of the society. On the other side is a world that is still struggling and manages to lead a life with dignity in a small bed sheet spread on a hillock of concrete.
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[ The pic in the post is shot using my mobile camera. ]