I have tons to say, most things are serious, but before gettting into graver things, i'd like to apologize to Mayank, Nikhil, Anwesa and Yamini, who really thought i was leaving,if viewed from a different angle, my April Fools joke wasn't all that funny. but i found out just how much my blogger friends mean to me and vice versa and that is overwhelming.. and for those who guessed it out that i was indeed fibbing... :) well... i dont know what to say \m/ you guys are tough to fool! so in case you fell for it and thought i was leaving you for good.. wooohoohahahaa.. i'm not.. im very much here.. like they say.. quitters never win and winners never quit!
Now on to what happened today. i have never felt this overwhelmed and humbled like this before, by the end of the experience i could barely hold tears back, and i feel ungrateful and extremely selfish in life but before walking out of the place i made myself a promise, even if i can't do anything directly for the situation but i will try my best to value what i have and lead a more meaningful life.
I had an interview at an NGO today. this NGO provides education and upkeep of destitutes, orphans and mostly children of prostitutes. before you cringe and form opinions i'd entreat you to read what i have to tell you. Initially i too was very reluctant to apply and even go for the interview, because their main centre was amidst Kolkata's red light area, but on my sisters insistence and since she was supposed to accompany me i agreed. both of us walked the by lanes going deeper and deeper into a congested lane, shops lined either sides of the streets. people eyed the two of us, wondering where the two of us were heading in the locality of the ill repute. after a lot of asking, a prostitute herself helped my sister find the right lane which after several twists and turns lead us to an old house and then a narrow staircase took us up to a terrace and a grill gate on one side. we opened the gate and walked in. [till this point, i knew i would say no to the offer because traveling to that locality everyday was something i knew i could never do, but if they transferred me to their other branch, which is somewhat near home, i knew i could still do it.]
the sight that greeted us took me aback somewhat. on a carpet, lay 20-30 odd children all asleep, and the happy smiles on their face showed just how peaceful they were and happy being there. down the hall we went into the administration office where we had to wait for almost two hours till the lady in charge walked in. those two hours i met some of my sisters students, who study in the same school as the one my sister teaches in. once they woke up and noticed my sister they came running, and in moments i lost tract of my sister amidst hugs and kisses and constant chattering. as we sat there we saw what the children's routine was like, after napping they woke up to a glass of warm milk and biscuits and then after playing a while they got down to their books. they seemed like any normal kid running and playing around but it is their smiles that set them apart from any other kid, because they were the brightest and the happiest. what i heard about their backgrounds later, left me stunned, aghast and totally overwhelmed.
yes i got the job, and thankfully i will be teaching in their different branch which is situated in a better locality and it was just the thing i wanted. but when i walked out of the NGO office, what the lady in charge had to say, rang in my ears. most of the children of were brought up in the NGO was rescued from their homes in the locality, their mothers were prostitutes, most were alcoholics and subjected their children to abuse both verbal, physical and sexual. if you are shuddering already dont, more to come. i met this girl whom i so liked, her name was kajal. kajal was the eldest of the three kids,age 10 she was a surrogate mother to her younger siblings, while her mother was with clients locked up in their house she used to baby sit her siblings and was often subjected to molestation by her mothers clients and people from the locality. there was this guy, Rakesh whose mother woke up at 11 and barely managed to get him ready or get him food, and abused him badly both physically and sexually until he was rescued and incidentally he comes first in his form. Little akash aged 6 has a broken arm because of his drunken mother; all their children had one thing in common, the identity of their fathers is not known.
so much happening in their lives, so many scars that has almost taken away their innocence; but then how do they smile, how do they try harder and harder each time to be a better human being? how people like us scorn such women and their bastard children but then there are people among us who step in front and give a helping hand. what i simply loved was there were many, relatively young people who work for and towards these children, and they do so without any restraints. and these children having got a glimmer of hope in the dark alleys and glitter curtains, smell of stale sex and alcohol; they try and bring themselves up and help those who help them be a better human being. despite seeing their mothers being decked up each evening for a new man, a new client, someone who is not their father, mothers who hardly act like one instead sell themselves to sustain to survive; these children haven't lost their smiles or the hope that they too can lead a life like any other children. the optimism and the will to survive made me feel so humble and yet so ungrateful, i remembered just how i crib for the tough life i lead, studies, students, admissions, college, job etc etc but this time i knew how futile and silly my problems are, that their are greater issues in life, just because they are camourflaged in the darkest corner of the society doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
another thing that really struck me was, while we were lost and trying to find our way, my sister called out to this lady "Didi can you please direct me to Night Light?" the lady looked up startled at being addressed "Didi", she was a prostitute getting ready for the evening, she didnt react to it but the smile she gave my sister was one that was grateful and full of respect. why do we forget that these ladies are women too. why do we forget that these women are at times under compulsion to self themselves to strangers each night year after year?? why do we use the word "prostitute" as a slur to abuse someone we dislike? aren't they humans too? who gave us the right to judge them and categorize them as fallen women, and as an outcast?
As we walked out of the dingy lane, retracing our steps from where we had entered almost 3 hours earlier, we saw a bevy of beautiful ladies, young and really pretty, giggling away trying to prepare themselves for the evening, while the so called 'dignified' and 'refined' ladies walked by giving them dirty glances and the men caste their lustful eyes, eyeing them in the sleaziest way; i turned away and started walking ahead, tears brimmed my eyes and i silently brushed them aside. in the brightness of the so called civilized society exist at its core, a dark dark world, in the din of laughter and cheerful banter, agonized moans and heart wrenching cries are muted, muted by circumstances, by compulsion, by need and survival.