Saturday, 28 February 2009

A love story

Our poverty is indeed very precious to us. We can’t share it, show it, or discuss it. For we love it so much. Almost to distraction. So much so that we cringe when a film shows a child jumping into a shit hole even though manual scavengers still continue to operate in our cities. As proof of our undying love we give them a special name and house them in a special place far away from our national conscience.

So much so that we look right through the beggar child tapping on our car window at the traffic light. And calmly continue typing there are no child beggars in Bombay for an article that would go on to get published in a national magazine. And people will buy the magazine from child hawkers at the same traffic light and read these words. Thus reassured maybe even smile as they look out at the cars lined up mile upon mile in a never ending traffic jam. And in the airconditioned comfort of their car they’ll coolly ignore the gentle tappity tap on their window.

Our love is so strong that we concentrate not on how to alleviate poverty but elevate it with rallying calls of ‘garibi hatao’ (remove poverty). We are bashful like a young teenager in love and almost turn red at any mention of it. So, our love call is never ‘garibi dikhao’ (show poverty) or ‘garibi batao’ (talk about poverty) but always ‘garibi hatao’. Ours is not the absence makes the heart grow fonder kind of love. But the out of sight, out of mind kind. Given our reticence on opening up about our relationship maybe our new love call should simply be ‘garibi chupao’ (hide poverty).

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