not a land of children



It was her birthday. Little Mahi was playing with her friends near her home. The little children were busy playing and laughing and no one saw the uncovered borewell and Mahi fell into it. Her little body hurled downwards and crashed 70 feet below. She was alive as her cries for help were heard by one and all. But her helpless parents and family could do nothing to help her as there was no way to reach down to her. They did the next best thing call the authorities. The police took 90 minutes to come and all the king’s men (army, metro, commandos, firemen etc) took 90 hours to bring little Mahi’s body out of the dark hole. Her soul had left for a better place much before her
broken body was recovered.

I hope death was quick to come and release her pain. I cannot begin to imagine what she must have gone through in the dark dark hole, with barely any place to breathe, let alone move, all alone and frightened. One must salute the men who braved all odds and fought night and day to bring her out. They did their best but everything conspired against them: the hard rocks that took days to break, the inhospitable terrain and lack of oxygen, the stifling heat… Yet they soldiered on. But sadly all they brought up was Mahi’s broken body.

The blame game is now on as always. The news was juicy and made good copy and TRP numbers yesterday. Today some other news will replace it and Mahi’s death will be forgotten to be remembered only when the next child falls in another uncovered borewell or drain and this will happen, there is no doubt on that. Six years ago Prince fell into a borewell and was rescued alive. Subsequent to that activists managed to secure a supreme court order that directed the administration to ensure that all such borewells and drains were suitably covered. But nothing happened. Wells were dug with impunity and alacrity and still are. It is all a catch 22 situation. The administration fails in providing water. People find their own ways. The authorities turn a blind eye and  extend greedy palms and the game goes on. You see everyone is happy: the ones who get the much needed water and the ones who can line their bottomless pockets. No one is the wiser till another child falls. How many children will have to die before someone takes action. No one knows.

In more ways than one, ours is not a land for children. No one cares for them. The proof: 5000 of them die every day. Their schools have no roof, they are used and abused. The list is endless. We remain mute at best or megalomaniac at worst. The proof: Aquaria Grande the new housing complex in our commercial capital that boasts of balcony swimming pools in a land where children die because of water borne diseases as they do not have access to safe drinking water or simply by falling in an uncovered borewell!

Has our conscience gone AWOL?

PS A friend pointed me to a wonderful idea to cover these deadly pits: plant trees! She mooted the thought way back in 2009 but found no takers. Maybe it is time to look at this again and find a way.

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