This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 32; the thirty-second edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is 'An Untold Story'
I don’t have an exact recollection of the weather that night.
I think it was warm and sultry. May be accompanied by a light drizzle? I am not too sure.
My father and I were on our way back home after visiting some relatives. He was driving and I was in the passenger seat in front.
After cruising his way through the hustle and bustle of Eldam’s Road in Chennai, he brought the car to a halt behind a long queue of Hondas and Fords and Hyundais waiting for the signal to turn red.
We were indulged in a serious discussion. Again my memory fails me with respect to the topic. Most likely it should have been the traffic conditions, probably the most discussed topic in all the junctions of the city.
Hearing a loud rap on the window I turned. The sight that met my eye has remained indelibly etched in my memory for many years until now. It was a beggar woman, her appearance quintessential; Shabby, dishevelled and clothed in an eclectic mix of rags. She must have been in her twenties.
She held something close to the glass of the window. When I realized what it was, my heart skipped a beat.
An infant; definitely less than four or five days old!
The foetal fatigue had not worn out completely and her eyes were still closed. They had not begun to take in the horrifying truths of her world.
For now, her only requirement was milk which the mother seemed to be providing. Totally oblivious to the squalor into which she had born, she was sleeping like any other baby. Peacefully.
The signal turned green and we had to move on.
That weekend I went to the Marina beach with my cousins.
Chennai’s beaches are very unique. You get to see a lot of children. Some rolling on the sand throwing huge tantrums; they want their fathers buy the pink-colored sugar candy or the cone of ice-cream. Some holding their parents hands tightly and screaming delightfully as the waves rushed in to kiss their tender feet. Some laughing loudly in mirth as the carousel moved fast, round and round. Some trying to smile despite their fear they felt, as the horses galloped along the shore, carrying them on their backs.
Some earning their bread; or their family’s!
Children selling sundal (a snack made out of boiled chickpeas or groundnuts) or assisting their parents in the chat stalls by acting as waiters are a common sight.
Of late, a newer breed has developed. Those selling cotton buds – the ones used to clean ears. Cotton wrapped around two ends of colorful plastic sticks are neatly placed into zip-lock covers and sold. They sometimes also have safety pin bunches or hairpins.
As my cousins and I sat on the sand chitchatting one group of kids came towards us, each of them holding a plastic tray full of such zip-lock covers.
To the “public” at the beach, these kids are just another menace disturbing their peace while they are trying to have a good family time.
One after the other they kept coming to us asking us to buy the buds. They would thrust the trays in front of our faces and keep uttering “Its only three for five rupees Akka(sister)”
Among the children, most of the ten or eleven years of age, was a tiny child who left me flabbergasted and frustrated. She should not have been more than three. With her small stature she was carrying her green plastic tray with some difficulty. Her walking had not steadied yet. She was still transitioning from baby steps to proper walking.
I don’t even know if she had any idea of the concept of money or of buying and selling. She was probably just imitating the act of her older brothers and sisters. Her eyes screamed of pristine innocence.
It was an extremely heart wrenching sight.
What I have quoted here are just two examples.
Every few steps we take would give us many such glimpses into the harsh cruelties and sinister realities of our world. Each one of them would have an untold story to share, the details of which I dare not pursue.
Scenes that can leave us sleepless for nights and hence we tend to avoid; or push to some corner in the mind where it would remain buried under other personal priorities leaving no space for them to surface and prick at our hearts.
One important change required in society is the development of some empathy towards such unfortunate children. Society should STOP looking at them as something undesirable existing in the surroundings analogous to pollution and noise.
Every child born on earth deserves good food, nutrition and education. There are many organizations working towards it. As citizens of the country, it’s everyone’s responsibility to join hands and assist in providing these children with better lives.
HELP! Whenever you can, however you can! It could be money, it could be volunteering, it could be clothes, books anything!
And whenever possible give them something that would cost you nothing. A little warmth and a big smile!
It was warm!
Very very warm;
After nine long months in my cocoon,
I was suddenly pushed out into the cold;
Cruel Wicked Cold!
My hands, my legs, and my face – Are still tiny;
Laughter, Play and Glee!
I need these too.
For I too,
Have only one childhood!