Days of discomfort. Months of uncertainty. I at last struck up a meaningful conversation with my help, today.
As you may have observed from the scene above, the view outside my room window is quite thought provoking – the beautiful blue sky, the dense clouds over the mountain,the sky kissing buildings, the pink/ red colored monorail, and something that our eyes could not skip past – the slum.
“These people do not have any stories to tell you”, said my help, Rima (name changed). I again requested her to share few insights from the slum, assuming that she herself resides there. Correcting me, she replied “My husband works as a construction worker for a builder, who in return gives us free electricity, water and accommodation. When the building gets built, the builder asks us to move out, or in most cases, we manage to find the next project to work on. We keep moving places as and when required”.
Rima is originally from the Maharasthra state, where she lives, and is very particular about what she wears. Beautiful earrings, bright colored saris, hair neatly tied behind in a bun. As she adjusts her sari with one hand and a broom in another hand, she continues, “There are also families here who own a slum house and work for the same builder. When the building is ready, these families get to move into those new buildings, all of them getting one flat each”…Unlike Rima’s family, who do not have a house of their own and are required to move places. Wives are usually seen working as helps, their husbands working as a construction workers or watchmen, and both of them working together – to make ends meet while working towards providing a better life for their children.
Rima has two children and it cannot be fathomed how tough it is for Rima to endure the circumstances and survive. “This is how I have been living, and this is how I will be working hard to run the household”, she shrugged dismissively or rather helplessly. When I ask for her permission if I can mention her in my write up for providing these insights, she laughs; “Why would anyone want to know about how we live?”. Thankfully, ‘A Mirror Garden’, the book I just began reading a few days back, was lying next to where I sat. I picked it up, showed it to her, and explained what the book is about, “This book celebrates the warmth and elegance of Iranian culture for people to understand the world better. I pen down this post for readers to realize how life is like in my neighborhood in India, and in other arcs of the globe”.
Have you attempted to understand what happens in your neighborhood? Have you felt the urge to dig deep to hear the unheard answers? Because clearly, there is so much more than we happen to see what lies beyond our walls.