The fragility of our existence stared at my face earlier this morning as I was hanging on the footboard of the viciously crowded Mumbai local. I almost slipped, but thanks to my luck and that angelic aunt that I’m here typing this and not, waiting to be another nugget in tomorrow’s newspaper. Posing as the protagonist of the sorry article on which everyone feels the pity, and then it is nothing but an archive to be forgotten.
The mental investment on the issue of over-crowded trains is so little, that there is no necessity to understand the problem or to care. This is because everything keeps going on non-stop until, it hits close to home. There are thousands of people travelling in the rush peak hour from north Mumbai to south, struggling in the compartment. It is an everyday gamble of life and death, the probability of the latter increasing as the population keeps increasing. It is nothing but a sheer competition of spaces. Those who win survive, while the others hang and hope not to die.
Is this the spirit of Mumbai, as they call it? The city is an infrastructural mess, but yet the financial crest. Is it a boon or a gain, I wonder. Due to the capability to generate and earn, it has successfully invited many people but it doesn’t have the capability to take in so many, and what is at risk? After every contingency, there is a quiet uproar till the problem is shoved into oblivion. Nothing is done, no efforts are made, even for mere closed-door compartments or increments in the number of trains.
We all are here to end, that is a said fact, but if the end is in such a way it is a kind of murder happening due to mere negligence. It is something that can be prevented just by a little action, a little attention.
After that moment, all I could think was, I may have been irrational considering my priorities where I chose hanging on the train rather than missing many of them for an hour or two, but it certainly shouldn’t ought to the end. I thought of my mother’s hug that I got this morning and I felt that maybe it could be the last, or the conversation that I had with my best friend would be the last. It was scary, so scary. I can’t do anything of the problem as of now, except practising caution and writing to our sorry government, but I can certainly now cherish and appreciate my life much more.
This article was published in the newspaper too :p yay!
I feel guilty of being privileged sometimes when I see my fellow humans living in absolute human misery and then I can’t stop thinking about this world, where we have adopted capitalism in all means and forms waiting for the trickle-down effect and the redistribution to take place. How much time will it take? Maybe, it will never end, the widening inequality and the injustice experienced by many or maybe it will, but till then what? Will these people stay this way? I am a budding economist, almost a semester away and I know socialism has failed in all ways, and also, that it cannot bring growth and prosperity as they rightly say, but aren’t the resources on this planet meant to be equally shared and distributed? Doesn’t everybody deserve a life where at least the basic necessities are being fulfilled? If that is not happening, I feel that maybe the system is not working and there is an urgency to do something new, to form a new order or whatever. I don’t know, I am too naïve to come up with anything. I can’t even ask people like you and me to do anything because I know it doesn’t work that way. It’s the social order, where there is always more and more that people desire, and even that seems less. We live in our very petty surroundings with people of same social standings and half the time, we don’t know what’s going around or are to nonchalant to care. It’s never enough for anybody and it will probably never be.
All I know is that when I watched this little boy trying to sell balloons on the street, claiming to be hungry. I didn’t want to buy it, not only because it was useless to me but also because I didn’t want to encourage child labor or perhaps some gang which kidnaps such kids for begging as various media sources point out. However, I went ahead and bought it, just because that look on his face was haunting me, the look of sheer distress and poverty. I don’t even know how can I expect him to go to school and study, to improve his condition and go beyond, outside this vicious cycle, because if he doesn’t work today, he will probably have no meal to eat tomorrow. The opportunity cost is high, more than I will ever know.
The other day, this withered woman was walking along with her two small kids, latched tightly to her arms as she begged around, from persons to shops, everywhere. Most of the people were shunning her away, and I couldn’t help but think, what these kids must be feeling, do they even know what dignity feels like? Well, a foolish thought I know, dignity and self-worth comes way up in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Their vision must be clouded with utmost need of hunger and thirst and helplessness.
Also, last year when I was roaming around the slums of Mumbai for my research for a month or so, I couldn’t believe the condition in which mankind lives in and ironically, that was not even the worse. Their condition was much better as many said.
And then today, something weird happened, something both heartwarming and heart shattering at the same time. I met this women at Vile Parle station and she gifted me a key chain. She was the same woman to whom I used to give water daily three years ago until she left the particular spot where she used to sit. She got a job, now she makes jewelry and sells them. It was overwhelming. I forgot her existence and even her face, but she didn’t, maybe because I did more for her than I felt as that task was nothing for me. This made me feel, maybe, little things do bring huge impacts, and sometimes we don’t even know about it. So, we should keep doing whatever we can hoping that it improves somebody’s life even a little until a new social order is formed, or until things change or till destruction takes us all away.
The flame engulfs him suddenly, ferocious but untempered,
The muscle loses its control,
The mind turns inept to garner any reasons,
The actions taken are unquestioned,
Regret that later persists stays…
The flame engulfs him steadily,
Prepared to stay there for long, nurtured enough to be strong.
To obediently shadow him around, everyday and everywhere,
With a motive, to be a part.
Decisively taking over, even more…
From mind to the actions, from petty aggressions to enormous reactions.
It is the gift that he receives all his life, until he decides to let go…
The flame engulfs him, as he stops, realising the futility.
Maybe even more, the desperation to be free.
The moisture in my eye stayed there, twinkling as I replayed our journey all this way, all this while. There was a rhythm, a momentum in our entire story, which led to this final ending, as I must say today. The day you finally confessed became my day of good bye, I can’t say what it was but something broke deep within. There was a mild shatter, a hit of realization that I have been pursuing the wrong all this time, the destruction perhaps.
Little did I know that finality has its own way to show, its own distinct style. I had often thought that we were long gone, but the prevailing wound doesn’t seem old and mended. It rather hurts, fresh and obnoxious. Maybe I was lying to myself for so long that it became disguised as truth. The truth that everyone fears, which can be more mind numbing than a dosage of anaesthesia but now that the cloak is uncovered showcasing the withered emotions and feeling, I realize. The magnitude of acceptance is unreal; it is beyond the plethora of my persona.
I look down at my shivering heart as it beats, a little too fast and a little too slow, chaotic perhaps? It is wounded after this battle of triumph and freedom. There will be an escape, I know, but right now, I think I have the right to mourn.
When I see out there,
All I observe is a cruel world,
Mocking people with more than one can usurp,
There is pain, There is suspicion,
There is feeding on someone else’s emotions.
I stand here feeling guilty of the same,
Every time I laughed on somebody else’s weakness,
I lost a part of myself, my integrity,
Deep inside I knew it was wrong,
But for some unfathomable reason I carried on,
I feel the misery in me, asking me to promise to never do it again.
But I fear that tomorrow I might end up commenting,
on somebody else’s attempt to try something new,
Maybe a new language or a skill to speak of few.
Or that I might end up mocking somebody else’s petty flaws,
As I desperately hide my own imperfections behind the shallow laugh.
I fear that I will fail to understand how hard one is trying to fit in and to be right,
Not realizing their predicament or how my comment would affect.
Maybe, because of me they would stop trying and I’ll be guilty for life.
It’s a mystery to me how we feel honored in somebody else’s grim?
But who am I to speak?
As I happen to be guilty of the same time and again.
Once a fierce competitor,
Now a broken mess.
It was the inability to let go of the insecurity,
Which led to utmost incompetency.