“NOT AS HAPPY AS U”
Sometimes in life we feel so blue,
But someone, somewhere is not as happy as u.
Somewhere far at the border when a soldier sleeps,
Missing his loved ones he silently weeps.
Somewhere a mother painfully sighs,
Coz her new born baby didn’t open her eyes.
Somewhere a poor dad silently cries,
When he sees his son begging for a bowl of rice.
Somewhere in an orphanage a little girl’s sad,
When she misses her mom n dad.
So at times a reason to smile u may not have any,
Say to urself that u’re happier than many.
Coz life is beautiful and its not always blue,
And someone, somewhere is not as happy as u……..
Yesterday was my husband’s birthday and I gifted him a loofah worth Rs. 250, and laughed all the way back home at the ridiculous idea of the gift. However, I knew he would absolutely love it! And, that’s what happened. He was happy like a child! Heheheh.
But today, I realized that the same amount of Rs. 250 could be a deciding factor between life and death for someone! While driving home this morning after dropping my husband at his company bus stop, I was hailed by a 10 or 12 yr old boy for a lift. I stopped and picked him up. On the way, I asked where he lived and he replied, “Airport.”
“Airport?!” I was surprised. “Nobody lives at the Airport!”
“I want to go, ask for a one-day job there.”
“A job?!” I mused aloud. He was just a KID. Who would give him a job! “Nobody would give you a job, boy, or they will be convicted of child-labour,” I informed.
“Yes, I’ve been told,” he replied knowingly. “I’m out since 6 am, and everybody keeps telling me that whenever I ask for a job.”
I had another question: “And what good will a one-day job do you anyways?”
“I need to earn Rs. 250.”
He was very specific and hence, I asked further, “Only Rs. 250? What for?”
“My mother is ill…” he replied in a small voice. “The doctor has asked for Rs. 250 for the Saline.”
“Where’s your father?”
“Did you try the government hospitals where the treatment is free?”
“Yes. Someone took me to the military hospital and they said it was only for soldiers.”
“That must be the Khadki hospital.”
“Try the military hospital in Vanavadi. They allow free treatment for civilians there. And did you try Sasoon?”
“That’s where they asked for the money.”
“WHAT?!” I immediately placed a call to my uncle who is a doctor on Govt. payroll.
“Ah, it’s supposed to be free in Sasoon. But the staff could take advantage of someone’s lack of knowledge or authority, and demand money, so they could warm their own pockets.”
“This is so bad, mama! Where would a 10/12 year old kid bring money from?”
“Do one thing,” my uncle had an idea. “Go to Kamla Nehru Hospital, tell them my reference, and then let the doctor decide whether to admit the patient or not. In this hospital, the Saline would cost only Rs. 5 or Rs. 10.” Uncle had worked in this hospital for many years – he was a resident doctor there.
So, thanking my uncle, I turned the vehicle around. “There’s no use going to the airport – they won’t offer a job as it is. We’ll go to the Bank ATM and I’ll withdraw some money,” I offered, but was immediately met with a revolt.
“No, didi, you’ve already helped a lot by giving a lift. I don’t want money, I want a job.” With this statement he claimed instant respect. But I also knew that Saline wasn’t a permanent solution; it’s just like a Bandaid – temporary revival. So, I assured him that I won’t help monetarily, but I’ll help him in getting his mother proper medical attention at no, or very low cost.
I then placed a call to my father who is a retired Air Force personnel. I enquired about the procedure to procure a ‘civilian medical card’ for the poor. Then I told the boy that we’ll first go to my house, grab some identification papers of me, then we’ll go to his house, grab some necessary documents from there, then go to these government hospitals for a possibility of free treatment for his mother. Once all the arrangements are made, and the hospital is ready for her, then we’ll take her there. But the child became more-n-more uneasy.
“Didi, the people in our locality will make us a laughing stock – they’ll taunt that we sought help from an outsider, that we couldn’t provide for ourselves. And my mother will beat me up if she knew that I begged for help.
“But you aren’t begging; I’m helping you out of my own free will! Moreover, I’m not helping you financially either. It’s just that you are very young, and don’t know how to fight for your right. I’m older, more experienced, and hence, am simply guiding you about the correct places to go looking for help. Tomorrow when you grow older, won’t you help the youngsters and the inexperienced?”
Unfortunately, he wasn’t convinced. When we reached my housing society, I asked him to follow me up to my apartment on the 2nd floor, and his pace slowed down with each step. And then, when I was busy unlocking the door, he stole out of there in a jiffy! I searched up and down, the parking lot, even the road outside, but couldn’t find him. There was a guy from our society who was cleaning his car near the main entrance, and he didn’t see anyone go out either. God only knows how he managed this great escape! A chance was thus lost to help someone who seemed as if he really could use some at the time.
I usually don’t help beggars with any money, because I know many of them are imposters. They beg the whole day long, and then have a grand dinner in a 5 star hotel to close their day; some even have multiple properties in the most expensive cities in India! But I’m also aware that there are a few, unfortunate souls who don’t get help when they really need it, and who also don’t beg.
Then again, there also are the vultures in our society who prey on the dying or the weak. Like the staff in the government hospital who demanded money for the medical attention which is supposed to be FREE! “Don’t they have a conscience?” I sometimes wonder. Imagine the situation if this poor kid’s mother succumbs to her illness and lack of medical attention, which was her fundamental RIGHT to begin with! What happens then? This kid would become an orphan. But the people of his locality, who aren’t even ready to help him when his mother is still alive, who mock and ridicule them to have asked for ‘external help’… would they help him when his mother dies? Would they even know that orphaned children could be given shelter in NGOs for orphans? He wouldn’t even get a job to satisfy his hunger, only because ‘child labour’ is a punishable offence in India. Indian government has simply made the rule of what ‘not’ to do, but it has completely failed to show the direction/provision for such children to survive in this cruel world… The only option that would be left with him, then, would be to steal. And then, he would be pulled into the murky world of crime. Who will be affected then? The same society, who refused to help a self-righteous citizen in his time of need, would reap the crop of “pushed” criminals. Isn’t it? I wonder how many good people were ‘pushed’ to the limit, when they stopped giving a crap, and started hurting others through crime…
Now I’m sounding like one of the lead characters in my detective adventure book series: Nayak Brothers. Sandy, one of the protagonists, thinks that helping a person in his hour of need could stem crime. He also agrees with his father on: “Not everybody’s bad; just remove the root cause, and the person becomes good.”
- Stitching up child workers (theage.com.au)
- Sherrin’s child labourers abandoned (theage.com.au)
- You Can’t Abolish Child Labour Just By Making It Illegal (forbes.com)
- Liberal MLA asks chip giant to boycott Alberta potatoes until child labour laws reformed (news.nationalpost.com)