Saturday, January 29, 2011

Us and Them

Us and Them

TO BEAT THE COLD, I move to the small balcony of my third floor flat and occupy the folding chair, fighting for space with the LG washing machine the fordable press table the two crates of empty soft- drink glass bottles not forgetting Ranjit’s Golf set. However, to me what matters is the sensual pleasure of the slowly seeping in warmth, radiating from the low in sky sun and the warm, mild breeze caressing my exposed face and the fingers of the hand as I write.

My avuncular eyes scan the large span of green grass down below and feast on the spectacle of the tiny tots playing, tumbling, falling, giggling and indulging in every other antics they are capable of, under the watchful eyes of the young mothers, otherwise, engaged in gossip with each other, when not engaged with the cell.

Slowly, as then evening advances the mothers and the toddlers move in, most probably to prepare for the arrival of the husbands from work: I can already hear the occasional beep from the stream of returning cars.

The now vacant ground, down under, is soon invaded by a gaggle of a few preteens. Irritatingly, the pleasant to the ear, giggling of the toddlers gets replaced by the ear piercing shouts, cries and aimless chatter of the intruders; to them a part of their game or what ever they are indulging in and forces me to think of moving in, in any case with the sun sinking behind the building blocks in the distance, the temperature has also dropped a few degrees.

I add a few extra woolens, to those already covering me, to brace the cold outside and decide to take a walk, picking up some well needed body warmth.

I have recently moved in the AWHO Township at Greater Noida, replete with all the modern facilities, Army Club, swimming pool, market, shopping centre, community hall, and what have you , some already up others coming.

As I cut across the ground towards the under construction cluster of phase III of the project, I notice, for the first time, a sprawling shanty township, bang in the middle ,built and inhibited by the labour-force employed, the, same who had built the palaces for us and for themselves the hovels to live in , shanties constructed from corrugated iron sheets; ovens in summer and ice boxes in winters, lying cheek and jowl with each other: no privacy, no sanitation, no personal safety. How they live and survive and what goes-on in there I shudders to think

To my utter horror, I notice a group of youngsters, six to eight years of age, playing for money, with small stones, with amazing hand and eye coordination, hitting or missing the indicated one from a cluster of three: budding professional gamblers, exchanging the winnings and losings nonchalantly.

As I can for see,their future may not be secure but it is certain, the character in formation for the police and law to deal with a few years hence

Lucky is the girl child, working as domestic help, parents fully aware of the legal consequences, who does bring some money to keep the home fires burning, unlike the vagabonds with nothing to occupy there time, already stealing, from home or outside to indulge their passion.

What about there Right to Education, a safe childhood, security, basic sanitation, clean drinking water, and enough food to fill the belly?

Who is to blame for this sad state of affairs, the builder or some one else?

On the flip side, we,those residing in our spic and span flats, with our ostrich like closed eyes, totally blind to the fact that the help entering our portals, to wash, clean and cook is accompanied with germs, microbes, viruses to which she may have become immune, but not we nor our children, for sure.

I muse and brood helplessly, as I trudge slowly back to my cold, lonely now so uninviting flat. arriving to nothing.


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