hey , my bro has got my back !

I shut the door behind me and walked through the hallway to the elevator. Two kids were playing football, brothers I guess. One around 10 years old and the other would have been around 3 or 4 years. The elder ran behind the ball with Lionel Messi’s expression as he was close to score and the other ran aimlessly laughing, he did not care much about scoring a goal, all he wanted was to run around with his brother. This took me many years back ( FLASHBACK :P).

It isnt black and white, it is the year 1997 as per the date written in the left hand bottom corner of the video. I am a year and 4 months old, wearing a white shirt and blue shorts. My brother almost nine years old. We are in a park playing football. It was the similar thing, my brother got to play with the ball all the time, and I never got to touch it …well I couldn’t touch it because I could barely walk :P. I kept on falling and my brother with another friend of his kept on playing the game. The video shows me complaining to my dad( who was taking the video) that they were not giving me the ball and when they did all I had to do was fall and nothing else.I love the video not just because it had the younger me in it but because it had my younger dad, mom and most of all my brother who shared the screen equally with me. I love comparing that brother who I don’t remember much with the present brother who I see now.

I don’t remember doing many things with my brother because the age difference we had between our self was a huge barrier. He got matured for my plays way soon 😦 . And the fact that he had to leave me for higher education (I am really beginning to hate that word…why do people have to leave their loved ones just to get good HIGHER EDUCATION…). My early memories with him was the daily drop to school bus stop. I did not like the idea of going to school much and whenever I think of going to school, I used to get  butterflies in my stomach which eventually made me cry( it was way back then, I don’t cry now…really !) I wouldn’t let go of my mother in the mornings and it was my brother who would pull me to the bus stop. He had afternoon shift in the school, the poor guy always had to give up his sleep because he had to take me to the stop. I remember clutching his finger tightly weeping. He would have a grumpy face and would be continuously rubbing his eyes.

He was the one who taught me the basics of my sport love cricket. I am a left handed batsman and a right arm bowler and this surprised my friends because it is a strange combination. When they ask I proudly say ” Well that’s how my brother taught me :D.” and would always dream (just a dream) of telling an interviewer sometime in the future this story like the great Indian captain Saurav Ganguly happily recollects why he chose to bat left handed just to use his brother’s cricket kit.He would come to my class during lunch breaks and take away something from my lunch box, I still remember his classic smile. That smile used to infuriate me then but now it can melt my anger at any point.

As time went by I learnt better lessons from him like how to be a perfect man. He was my complete idea of a tough guy. He taught me how to see things in its way and how to face problems by being cool. He thought me to dream big, to write and read big.

He is right there grooming for an interview he is going to attend. I helped him to choose the shirt he was going to wear for the interview( sounds bit girly but I don’t care !)and whenever he listens to me and accepts my opinion I rise in the air.Years have passed and I guess we both are in the same level of maturity. We have passed that phase of differences and pity fights. We have grown up that we both can accept each other’s suggestions and opinions without having to argue. I love how it feels right now and I really hope that we continue to be like this rest of our lives.

As I was in deep thoughts and memories it suddenly struck me that I have been standing in front of the elevators for the past ten minutes and not one of them showed up. What the hell ?? Or did I miss it ? Oh man….

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What do they need ?

what-do-they-needAll Indian streets may not have modern skyscrapers or well built sewers or luxury SUVS but they all do have one thing in common – BEGGARS – homeless people who you can find in the corners of the streets seeking financial help – the best way I can explain. Once I remember seeing a beggar in the streets of Sharjah city (United Arab Emirates), everyone passing by looked at him with astonishment and majority showered help to him. This happened because there it wasn’t an everyday sight unlike India.
Azad India Foundation tells us that there has been an increase in the number of people choosing to seek alms in India -” According to a recent survey by Delhi School of Social Work there has been a phenomenal increase in the numbers of beggars in India. In a decade since 1991 their number has gone up by a lakh. There are some 60,000 beggars in Delhi, over 3, 00,000 in Mumbai according to a 2004 Action Aid report; nearly 75000 in Kolkata says the Beggar Research Institute; 56000 in Bangalore according to police records. In Hyderabad one in every 354 people is engaged in begging according to Council of Human Welfare in 2005.” Here we are talking about the major cities of the country and look at the figures !
Well the worst part of it is that we have kids doing this – begging . Most heart-breaking scenario you wish to see when you really hope your country would jump into the list of the developed nations sometime soon. How can this ever happen when your children are out in the streets wearing nothing but a torn shorts going around asking for money, from car to car in the traffic signals or in garbage dumps or under the city flyovers.You can see a girl child walking with a small kid in her hip or a mother with a small infant when you get out of a restaurant or after watching a movie from the cinemas.
Well, I would like to share one small incident that I happened to experience few months back in Pune. In Pune the number of child beggars is unbelievable, you can see them in almost all crowded traffics signals and streets. I was walking on one such crowded street with few of my friends, crowded street- hawkers selling cheap wallets and t-shirts, ice lollies and lemon juice,pirated books,couples walking down the road hand in hand and then child beggars. Kids no older than 10 or 11 walk around the place going from one passer to another clinging on to their legs and hands pleading and crying for money. Most of these kids would have an infant with them adding to the plight. All this was a strange sight for me and confused me a lot.
Couple of these kids came to us, my friends looked at each other blankly and confused not knowing what to do but I had a plan. I walked upto a small shop nearby and bought a few biscuits. I walked back to those kids,all this while I was filled with pride and happiness.The thought of the smiles that the kids would have when I give them the biscuits took me to the heaven. I still saw the blank look on my friends’ faces. I slowly approached the kids who were now clinging on one of my friends’ leg. They looked at me , actually at my hands (the attractive biscuit packets took their attention) and before I could do anything else they grabbed it from my hands and swiftly put it in their old bag. I was disappointed, I did not see the smiles or the contentment in their faces. Now it was me who had the confused blank look. But what surprised me the most is that after this small scene the kids again clung on to our legs and started begging for money “Bhaiya please bhaiya DUS RUPIYA DENAA ( brother please brother give us 10 rupees”. You know that feeling when you have made a fool of yourself and you have no idea how to get out of it as if nothing happened to you or to your pride, well that was it, I was going through it at that moment.
We were literally stuck there, right in the middle of the footpath still confused (but my friends had a little smile in their faces – mocking smiles).The people did not bother much, they just continued walking as though nothing strange was going on, they overtook us and some even walked between us pushing us apart, no one really cared much. This wasn’t an unusual scene here. Finally it was when one of our Marathi knowing friend shouted we would call police that these kids left us. As you all must have guessed I was the clown through out the way back.Friends they don’t miss such opportunities, taunted me, they still do. But this was more than an embarrassing situation to me, it put a thought in my mind.
Why do they beg ? Basic reason – Hunger. Well actually I don’t think that my biscuits would end their hunger but my biscuits would be enough reason for them to leave us and go to another passer, then why did they insist on giving them something as money itself. I thought about it not once but many times but couldn’t ever find an answer for it until one day when a friend came to me with an intention to start a NGO. He went on about health, education and many other aspects. I eagerly waited for him to start this topic which was running through my mind since the day it happened. He did not mention anything about that so I decided to put it up.
“What about the numerous child beggars in the streets ? We could do something for them, right ?”
He smiled and shook his head.
“Nothing…we can do nothing about it. These are activities backed up by amazingly huge mafia groups and there is pretty much nothing that we can do about it.”
MAFIA. That word rung in my head again and again, those kids’ faces appeared before me one more time, their plead now made complete sense. It wasn’t a plead to beat their hunger but to save themselves from the thrashing they were going to get that night if they did not make their contribution. Every child under the siege of this mafia in the nation goes through incredible pain and misery. Something we fail to see or even think in our busy lives and our life events that we think is miserable. We all think of them and pity them as we sit in a city bus stopped at a signal with our iPod playing our favorite song, watching them knock the glass window of every car and it will last only for a couple of minutes. When we receive a text message or a notification from Facebook the feeling and sympathy disappears into the deep darkness in our minds just like these kids would . I type this with complete sense that there is nothing that anyone could do about this but with a slight hope that one day we would all come together realizing how important the lives of these kids are and then help to make a change, a difference in their lives forever.

Definitely not a MOTHER’S DAY special…

unnamed

Yesterday was mother’s day, as usual I sat in front of my laptop and was scrolling down my Facebook wall reading infinite number of status updates of people on how cool their moms were or how they miss their mom and on and on .. well the funny question was didn’t they miss their mom any other day or didn’t they realize that their mom was cool before . For me yesterday was no different from any other day except for the fact that I was lucky enough to be with my mother. With all this mockery going around I had decided that I would not write anything regarding mother’s day on mother’s day 😛 it is usual and expected and I don’t function that way .. (“yea right !”that is what people who know me would probably be thinking now)
But really this public display of affection towards mothers not cool people and that too on one specific day not cool at all. Why do we need a day to remember mothers ? I mean what kind of logic is that ? Now if you are going to shoot ‘why celebrate birthdays then ?’ thing at me, let me tell you – birthdays are totally different. They are reminders reminding you that you have completed one more year of your life, they are questions asked at you – what have you achieved ? You know with age comes wisdom and what is your WISDOM QUOTIENT 😛 ? They are sign boards showing you that the road down is going to be difficult and bumpier 😀 . And hell no it is as same as mother’s day.
Give it a thought, do we really need a day to think of our own mother, a day to tell others that we love her, a day to thank her ! I have been with my mother for 17 years and few months after which I left to Pune for my “HIGHER EDUCATION” ( 😛 ). I remember that day (and always will) ,her face when she stood in the railway platform sending me off. She held my hands from outside, she couldn’t let me go, she walked along the train and my brother had to hold her back. Her eyes were filled and her face was terrible. Frankly speaking I was able to get over her quickly, real quick I mean before I reached Pune. I was excited thinking about how my new independent life was going to be and planning how I was going to live it. We all do this, we illustrate things going to happen to us in our minds before it and we reach there just to find that it is completely opposite of what we had in our minds. Something similar happened to me. Life was bad and was getting worse 😦 . From the day 1 I have been thinking of my mom ,thanking her and missing her.
My mom is a very weak woman not health wise but at heart. If you need to hurt her its easy simply make a joke on her and bingo you can see her sulk. Whenever I do this I find myself deeply immersed in thoughts on how to make her smile back again because when she smiles I have no idea how much happy it makes me. Whenever I make her smile I feel like I have achieved something enormous and I look at my brother and smile at him with pride ” bro you saw that she is laughing at my joke ! I made her laugh ! ahaaa ha ha !” and that is what the smile would mean. And this lady has amazing stamina I mean she could be a some sort of sports star if she did all those what she did at home in a ground or something. She cooks and she cleans and she washes and she irons! Well I couldn’t make maggi and wash the dishes simultaneously , I don’t know if something is wrong with me but I just couldn’t.
Now my father is a very tough person at least known to be a tough and emotionally strong person ( I really got to know this thing on the day when I was leaving to Pune, he had no emotions in his face if ever he had something it was anger, he was completely mad at me and mom for making a scene at the station ! ) I have only seen him cry once – it was when his mother, my grandmother passed away. My mother woke me up and told me the bad news. I did not know what to or how to react. Well my grandmother was in bed for quite a long time and it was expected. I saw depression in my father’s face but he wasn’t crying. He was talking to his boss asking him for leave, for the first time I saw my dad break down. His sound all cracked up and trembled I did not see if there were tears or not because I did not have the courage to look at his face then. He couldn’t make it. He couldn’t see his mother for one last time and I don’t know if I have ever experienced a tiny portion of what he went through at that moment.

We all know that our mother is not going to be around us forever but we never accept the fact because every man or woman however old he or she is, in front of his or her mom they always turn into a child. After being away from her for almost a year now I have really learnt to appreciate her and stand up for her. But now that I am with her (for 2 weeks ) I have started taking her for granted because that is what we children do.We have no idea what is going on in her head all day long and if we try to learn that it is too damn complicated.Frankly speaking I believe that some day I will be able to give her happy thoughts and only happy thoughts. I will make sure that she doesn’t have anything to worry about me( I don’t really think that is possible but lets be optimistic here).
I couldn’t see myself in my father’s position . It scares me, to imagine a world without my mom, a day without hearing her voice. All this thoughts disturbs me, I look at her, while typing this, who is sitting just opposite to me watching something in the TV . She looks at me and that comforts me but all of a sudden I find wrinkles in her face – I stare at it … she looks at me again and this time asks
“what now – hungry?”
Mothers ….. :’)
Please she is worth more than one day of praising and thanking and missing….she is worth your whole life .

THE KID AT THE REFRESHMENT CENTER

the kid

My evenings started with a hot bread pakoda and a cup of coffee from a near by restaurant..well i don’t know if I can call it a restaurant because they themselves don’t..they call it KRISHNA REFRESHMENTS. I used to live near by this place, Bhandarkar road amazingly crowded with all sort of vehicles crawling and honking their way . Every evening I would walk to this refreshment center (lets call it that for time being :P) and would say ” coffee,bread Pakoda” along with my index finger up indicating one each. Since my Hindi was very poor I don’t talk much. The problem is that I don’t understand their Hindi and they don’t understand my version of it.

Days passed and I went everyday without fail. This was very economical too. 10 bucks for each – the stomach filling pakoda and the soul-waking coffee . Yep, although the cup could be a little bigger it was soul-waking, it would just wake up the soul like our mom’s annoying sound used to wake us up in the mornings back in high school days ( well mom did not sound bad during the day..of course even Elvis Presley would sound annoying if it was 5 in the morning and you were still in the bed).Finally that day came when just upon seeing me the guy behind the counter turned and screamed ” yeke bread pakoda aur coffee”. It made me feel special 😀 .

One day I was standing there holding the paper plate with the bread pakoda and green chili (looked like made for each other) in one hand and hot coffee in the other. I took the coffee cup closer to my mouth, the smell itself half awakened my sleepy soul, it was after the first sip that the small lad came into my notice. He wore a worn out T-shirt that had Armani(with two ‘A’s) written on it along with a fake logo tucked into an old dirty jeans and wore no footwear. He had a big flask in his tiny dirty hand. He smiled at me as he caught me staring at him. I smiled back vaguely. He went inside to the kitchen, well I think like the new generation Indians they too believed in a very transparent working system – they did not have any cover to their kitchen. It was very open ( it wasn’t very comfortable though..I always to try to keep my vision out from there). That night as I was in my bed I couldn’t stop thinking of the small kid, I mean at his age I was watching Pokemon and was being fed by my mom.

I realized that the coffee really woke my soul up, I decided to act instead of simply sitting and thinking. The next day I eagerly watched him. His job was to supply coffee in flasks to the string of banks in Bhandarkar road. He went holding the TOO-BIG-FOR-HIM flasks with a smile on his face.Everyday I would see him do the same thing and every night I would think what I could do to help him. The next day I went to meet a professor in my college known to be a very active social activist. I talked to him, narrated to him the whole thing. He smiled at me “Very happy to hear that you really want to do something for the kid..” he turned his attention to something that appeared in his computer screen (probably something more important >.<) “but have you thought what might happen to him after we showed him to the government officials? I will tell you, they would put him in a government juvenile home and his life as an individual would end there..” and he went on for long on what would be the end result of showing him to the officials…his family would starve, he would lose his freedom…it went on.

I walked back to my room.That evening I did not go to Krishna Refreshments because i felt guilty. I felt it as if it was my fault that he is suffering. Is he suffering ? Was it better this way? The kid made me stay up that night too. Then couple of days I stayed away from Krishna Refreshments as I knew I couldn’t stand the sight of the kid. You must be thinking that I am being guilty for nothing(I don’t know if you really thought that well if you hadn’t please do..I need to finish this thing). Well that is because one thing in this story never happened – me meeting the professor…I really wanted to meet someone who could help me out but then my mind became the professor and my heart stood there as me. The facts that my mind showered upon me completely contradicted the emotions that my heart released. I was sorry for not trying to help him at the same time I was happy for not putting him in trouble by trying to help him.Life sometimes (at least for me) is like this, Your mind takes you to one place but your heart pulls you to another. We stand right in the middle not knowing what to do.

What do you people think I should have done ?