Sky embracing towers, wide roads filled with traffic and noises of vendors. These are the things which have become a very usual and an inalienable part of your lives. But for some, these are the not so common sight to come across. You might have guessed that ‘some’ includes me. I belong to a slum. As it turns out that your world and our world are at variance. We’ve seen enough top floors; it’s time to take a look at the basement now. So today let us try to bridge that little gap. Let me be candour and allow you to take a small glance into my world. Our life to you is what yours is to us-unfamiliar.
I was born and brought up in a slum. My mother worked as a maid and my dad is a vegetable seller. We make 200 bucks a month. We live in a house which probably is equal to your bedroom. The lanes are not much wide in our slum. Two people with their both hands stretched would possibly not fit into the lanes of our area. I was very fond of cricket in my childhood. Our lanes were our playgrounds and boundaries, as far as I remember were two huts behind the bowler. We would run all day with rags on. A good day for us meant sleeping peacefully with our stomachs filled twice. That was about food but water is another painful story. It is not something we get access to everyday. A municipality tanker brings us water after every four days. Although I hate to admit it, we never mind bathing in dirty stinking water.
I was 7 years old when my parents sent me to school. That gained us a bit of recognition as going to school is considered a luxury in slums. Our school was inside a small hut. I remember one day my teacher had shown us the map of India. All of us were excited to see our location in our country but our excitement was short lived as we couldn’t find our slum on it. I guess presence of slums is something to be abashed of in a developing country like India. I guess the outside world is not for us. The life outside slum was never handy to us and it never will be. Our world is limited to the fraudulent and dirty streets we see outside the windows. Like our lanes, our future is also confined.
I was in fourth grade when my mom fell ill and she could no longer work. So I left my schooling to earn for my family. We also have some fundamental needs like the outside world. Just like their needs include food, electricity and water supply, our fundamental needs consist of two working members per family. I now work as a tea supplier. I always hated carrying books to school. “My back hurts”, I used to complain. But now the kettle feels to be overburdening my dreams and desires. It was better to carry a bag than kettle. It has become a blinder to my eyes, blinding my future.
I don’t understand why do people make eerie faces when they discover us residing in a slum? After all, we are a part of the city too, although a backward one but a part. We never utter a word when the garbage of whole city is dumped in front of our houses. We are the city dustbins. So in a way, we make the city look cleaner. Even the politicians visit us only when the elections are near, to buy our votes. We don’t care about the person we vote for. We just do it in a hope that someday somebody who understands our vulnerable state would come to power and lend us a helping hand to push us above. But every time we are disheartened. The government, a body who is responsible for a nation’s development only remembers us after every five years. It’s like our murderer is the only one who can save us.
Some people say that we are like water. We can adjust in the creepiest of situations. But I feel we are like atoms, thousands of us residing in a very small area. We are beads of a cycle which perpetuates itself, only towards the path of our sluggish old world every time. I wish one day any one bead would fall out of the chain and fly high to feel the embrace of the clouds and never return back to slum. People make a lot of documentaries and movies on slums. A lot of texts have been written on us. But why do those writers or film makers hide behind a blanket when it comes to actually helping us? Are we good enough to be restricted to movie screens and books only?
Every time I see a small kid carrying a dream in his shining eyes, I feel repentant because soon those pair of eyes is going to be entwined into harsh experiences of life. Outside people do know about our helpless situation but still treat us as misfits. We are like the most familiar strangers to them. As for now, I just want to be alive to see the day when an actual slumdog becomes an actual millionaire.
Post by: Falan Vachhrajani