On my drive back from the project I was accosted by a beggar woman at a red light. As I travel in a three wheeler, I cannot roll up the window and look away. And anyway I never do, as I cannot forget the words of a beggar woman of yore years that were perhaps one of the greatest lesson of my life.
The woman held a small baby girl in her arms and almost thrust it in the vehicle. The child seemed to be asleep but one look at it made you realise that the sleep was induced and the child drugged. His head flopped backwards and is body was flaccid. As I was not carrying any eatable, I gently asked the woman to move on. The light turned green and we went our way.
For the past few weeks I have also been disturbed by a little 2 year old who lives close to our computer centre. She has recently come from the village and is the daughter of a rather elderly man know for his anti social activities in his home state and who often comes to Delhi to escape authorities. His wife is illiterate and live sin constant fear of her husband who is to say the least quite a terror. This little girl is their second child, he first being handicapped and let in the village. We did try to convince them to send the child to the project, but in vain. The little girl spends her days on the street in front of her house or in the homes of neighbours who often shoo her away.
I wonder what the future holds for these two children of India. Actually one need not wonder, one easily guess their future. The beggar child will soon be tugging along her ‘mother of the day‘ (as the woman may have simply hired it), and as soon as she is a little older will be the one knocking at car windows. As she grows older she may be even given a pair of crutches. One day she will be married off and may be the one holding her baby and begging.
The little girl from the slum does not have a brighter future. She will follow the her uncaring parents from village to city to village. She will never attend a school or get an education. She will never have friends, or toys and one day when she is barely pubertal will be married off to some older man just as her mother was and will produce other children who will have the same fate as her.
The tragic part is that there is nothing much one can do as these children belong to strong mafia like social groups that are totally impervious to change. And yet they become a challenge that one needs to address. The question is how!