Silhouetted on the shores of Marina, she walked along in a revealing attire. It was a sleeveless top with small, above-the-knee skirt with patches of open stitches here and there. I looked at her as she walked holding a big plastic cover full of assorted materials. Her hair, left open dangling and swaying in the air. When she walked past me, the silhouetted image just came to light revealing her face and she let out a smile in which I became a captive.
To many, it can be an awesome experience, but to me it was a pitiful sight – the sight of a 10 year old rag picking girl, who picks up random stuffs from the shores of Marina for her livelihood. Every item that she picks up, it creates a profound value in her life. The life that needs to be sustained and survived is controlled by the litters of those, who throw things, which do not make any value to their life. She doesn’t complain. She has no regrets doing that. The only concern she has is, of the food that she gets when needed and a safe shelter. Education doesn’t mean anything to her. Neither is she aware of the sanctity of education nor does she have the financial support to uplift her economic stature.
There is an array of huts and houses built just with thatches, with no bricks or cement. Every morning, as my office bus passes by the Marina Beach Road running parallel to the beach behind the light house, it gives me a dual view of the cavernous mighty Bay of Bengal on one side, whose shore is impregnated with homeless destitute souls sleeping on the sandy shores, an assortment of painted fishing boats, in whose interiors, sleeps a lazy dog, scattered papers, plastic bags and torn pieces of clothes, tents under which the child sleeps hugging the stinky fishing net and the sands sticking all over their dark and tanned skin, random people from huts walking aimlessly on the sands.
On the other side of which consists of the untidy huts and stinky slums, with children bathing in the open, under the hand pump, an array of colorful plastic pots to be filled with the ground water – the only source of clean water for them, the construction site half built and half completed, completely revealing the red bricks and cement pastes in between them, for holding the bricks intact for eternity until demolished by a bulldozer from the government for illegal construction, a hand drawn caricature of local heroes implicit of the ‘Narpani Mandrams’. Few small children clad in maroon or blue trousers and skirts with white shirt walking uninterestingly towards the government school situated in some corner of the dilapidated roads and buildings, just for the sake of free mid-day meals scheme.
‘She’ belonged to one of those – who hates schools, who hates homework, who hates being commanded by the teacher, who doesn’t care about how a Garnier Fructis or a Elle-18 can affect her, who does not even think about entering a boutique and prefers staring at the skimpy clad mannequin bearing an apparel from the brands of Arrow Women, Levis, Sanaa, Hugo Boss, Benetton or even Elliza Donatein. She only cares about next course of good food, an untiring day of work in a nearby construction site or surprisingly good items savored to her from the roads and sandy shores of Marina and lastly a peaceful sleep at night.
It gives me an extreme twinge in mind – a spasm that conducts through every nerve endings and sparks in the cranial hollow space, filled with blood and flesh. This pain recuperates for a time period until unexposed from them and sets back again when passing through them. When speculating their lives and its progress, the intellect guides me to its very own programmed fact – the way of life – way of their own life.
It’s merely a line which divides the economic condition of every Indians. A line that demarcates the financial well being of every individual, decides the very fate and destiny. Once someone falls in the range, they continue to be in that range and their very conscience never ever accepts the idea of upgrading their economic condition. Upper-class of people continues to stay there, the upper-middle class strives to cross the boundary to attain the upper-class status and a middle-class never ever attempts to cross any line. They just sustain themselves in that scale and protect themselves from falling below the line. The poor cadres as defined by the line, curse their fate and live their life in the mud ridden roads and pavements.
Everyone in this world belong to some scale of that ‘holy’ line and also gets an opportunity to watch, stare, ogle, gaze or see such a ‘stranger’ in their life – each one of them belonging to some scale of the ‘line’. Everyone desires a position but very few are destined a position.
I’m wondering how many other strangers are desired, destined and most importantly a blessed one. She is definitely a destined poor dark-skinned financially fragile little rag picking girl.
She complains only of mosquito bites at night and torn patches of stitches in her dress and we complain of number ‘Likes’ in Facebook! *sigh*