- 28 January, 2008
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It has become a cliché; almost a necessary cliché these days to say that there are two India’s. It is a no brainer to see and feel/experience these 2 Indias. One which glitters and glows like a jewel. With starry lights and seductive looks she ensnares us, and numbs us into a false sense of intoxication and well being.
The other India weeps. Like a neglected traumatised child she skulks in the darkness that has engulfed her. Poverty stalks her. This is poverty which you and I cannot even pretend to understand. Understanding, sympathy, empathy – all mere words. Hollow of depth and meaning. What understanding can you profess to have when you see a baby crawl towards you on a blistering hot road? With a toothless smile grabbing for your bottle of mineral water.
How anesthetized we have become! Do you even think of that rag picker as a human? As one among your kind? Think about that. While you and I get our fresh dose of anaesthesia every morning do we realise there is a whole multitude of humanity already out scrounging for life for that day? Just to live on that day? While we prepare for a warm scented bath, can we imagine the stench that engulfs more than 50% of humanity? No amount of Gucci and Armani can suppress the stink that emanates from dead eyes and rotting hopes. Take a deep breath; it may be difficult to do so in times to come.
You may well argue that this is how it is and there is nothing that can be done about it. One hears aphorisms like “The problem is too big to handle” “Things have gone out of hand”. “This is inevitable”. “This is Karma”. From the commonplace to spiritual, we have perfected the game of blind man’s bluff. Just like the childhood game we stand laughing at a distance while someone else blunders around seeking our hand. The twist is there is no switch of the blindfold this time.
Life as I know it has changed for me. Since I can no longer go for a care free trip to a resort without wondering who has been evicted from here to make this place. Whose hopes have been dashed to create this golf course? Whose rights have been trampled upon to make exclusive and private beaches for the few? Whose tiny fingers have worked to make my next pair of shoes? Whose suicide am I morally responsible for?
The price one pays for awareness is great. The pain one feels when the anaesthetic has worn off is acute. It is tempting to watch the next television program and get lost in the world of the bold and the beautiful.
Meanwhile our wounds fester and the world falls apart with us laughing as we perish in the illusion we persist in believing in.