What a hot day it was today. I am tired of travelling 26 kms to my college every day with just 140 bucks in my pocket. 75% of attendance and a nice group of friends stop me from staying back at home. I won’t exaggerate on how broke I always am because I tend to take up an AC bus to college specifically the AC37A. Nice bus with comfy seats and A-1 class ACs which put me back to sleep with my headphones on. Coldplay’s “fix you” and Chainsmokers’s “something just like this” are the songs that I play on repeat nowadays. Well I am a metal head and I didn’t appreciate Coldplay much for I never listened to them. I just heard them play and sing.
So you see, life is more about experiences and they define you. They talk about your music taste, food, clothes, opinions, habits or the doctor you visit. It was an easy journey from “ Tu na jane aas paas hai khuda” to “ he’s half and half machine” (Painkiller- Judas Priest). However, it was a very difficult transition from “I am a prisoner of eyes” to “only a month we have been apart, you look happier”. It is all about your experiences and what you have been through. If you have not experienced a moment then you will never appreciate what you have or what you lost in that moment.
Recently I ran out of cash and I had to board a non-AC bus. What happened in it kept me awake that night till 3 in the morning. I kept on thinking about things over which I had no control. Trust me, things as such keep you from dreaming.
A girl of about 17 years with her young sister of about 5 boarded the bus. Their clothes were torn and hair was messy and they didn’t smell good. They stood right next to me where I was sitting and I could see the older blabber something. I was listening to the song “castle on the hill – Ed Sheeran ” but I also wanted to hear her voice. As I “force closed” Saavn I realised that she was actually singing and not blabbering. I realised that they were not just passengers. She sang in the worst possible voice that a human can have, like she outshined me. I frowned and apologised for I realised how it feels to listen to someone as bad as me. Well, I saw her sister going to every other person in the bus asking for alms.
My frown disappeared and my jokes got limited. I had no expressions soon. I kept listening to her hoarse voice as she sang “tu na jane aas paas hai khuda”. She got down soon, her stop most probably. She won’t remember anybody from that day but I will. She got down there with just 35 rupees. I will remember them all for years to come.
I will remember the white haired man who gave a 20rs note and half a packet of biscuits, the girl sitting right in front of me who had a black skull candy headphone who gave 5rs, the conductor with a big heart who gave 10 rupees. I’ll remember them all. I folded my hands as people fold their hands in front Maa Durga. I will remember them for they gave all they could and I could ask only for forgiveness.
Who is to blame? I don’t know her religion and I don’t know whom she prays for food and for shelter. I don’t know which God she thanks for food and health. I don’t know if she has parents. I don’t know where she lives. Well, who is to blame?
Does she have a religion? Is she working with a gang that send her to work and her work is to beg? Is she really doing it for her sister? Isn’t begging illegal under The Bombay Prevention Of begging Act, 1959?
Should I blame the government that could not comply with the article 21 of the Indian Constitution? The government which could not fulfil its promises but which one? All are the same.
They approved extra tall skyscrapers (THE 42) Kolkata and allowed big fancy malls, banned beef and porn and arrested people for memes but failed to give food, shelter, education, jobs and a future to those who needed.
So beautiful it looked on the Christmas Eve, the lights and the cake. Now that I know that people live under the Gariahat Flyover, that there are people who sleep without food, that there are people who have no place to call home I will say that independent India failed. She is defeated.
70 years of Independence, multiple wars and demonetisation- nothing changed. The British looted us back then and now our elected leaders are doing the same.
I must tell you dear reader, experience is everything. With empty pocket you cannot help and with all the riches you will never see pain. Only time and your stars can take you to places and situations that will hurt your soul, that will make you think and cry too. Only then shall you appreciate somebody’s labour, somebody’s pain.
Can you put a smile on that face which lost everything in an earthquake or a flood? Can you put on a warm jacket on somebody who is sitting out in the cold? Can you offer a glass of water to the “AquaGuard wale uncle” who might come to your place today? Try putting a smile on someone’s face who is trying to make ends meet for his family. Not all are fortunate. If you are, then try putting a smile on somebody’s face.
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