I was halfway through Les Misérables when something struck me and I sat down to write this. The movie depicted the poor in France during eighteen hundreds and the years during and following the French Revolution. And unfortunately our Golden bird looks pretty similar today to what France was almost two hundred years ago. My father belonged to a family of farmers and often told me stories of how he’d take one rupee with him to buy the grocery and vegetables for his family for a week while he was a teenager. To be very honest my father’s village hasn’t really come a long way. People are still struggling to make their ends meet. There is still no hospital. There is still not much happening with the school and with the way the competition and the prices are quadrupling every year, his homeland would probably vanish in the thin air. There is no food and when there is, there is no quality.
I very clearly remember this woman who used to work at our place for about an year when I was about eleven. I had recently read about the kind of adulteration that was prevalent in the food industry in India. I came back home and told my mum about it and she consoled me that the oil we got was good quality. I went into my maid’s kitchen and I saw a bottle of mustard oil worth fifteen rupees. You could smell and tell it was adulterated. She had no money to buy food to feed her son and herself. A majority of the people in Odisha eat pakhala- an Odiya dish consisting of steamed rice mildly fermented in water. She had nothing to eat her pakhala with. Just rice and water! Every time I go out and as I’m climbing the stairs of the Metro, I see these little kids begging for food. It feels like shit. And this one time there were these two little girls and they were asking me for water. I mean, they don’t even have water to drink! Food for them is luxury. And it’s beyond difficult for me to be indifferent to how this has been for all these years. I get to listen to all these stories of how this is a plan and a trick but I really don’t care if it is. Because no matter what, there is hunger and we need to do something about this. Even if I buy them food, I know I can’t do that forever, especially when I don’t earn. Every time you walk out of your house, you come across them again and again and again. Twenty first century and how? Still no food. And it’s not just about food. It’s the entire system that needs to be edited. The people need to know that there is something beyond just sustainability. Life isn’t all about earning to feed, it’s more about living.
While I went for my coaching classes this year during the summers, I used to come across a girl in salwar-kameez selling flowers, which were not more than 5 or 6 of them. The little flower girl is perhaps for me one of the most striking pictures of hunger in India. She was there everyday. She slept there, had her food there (which was barely there) and took rest under the scorching heat so that she could earn enough money to feed her. I’ve always been vocal about my dream of being able to live in a world of Utopia where I get to live a life of freedom and get to be able to be who I am without having to care about the judgmental minds. And then I come across this world on this extreme end which has probably not moved an inch since the stone age. It makes me cringe to see so many empty stomachs with only their skin to cover their bones. India is like a bicycle loaded with empty shining vessels. There is no deficiency of human resource, but there are too many empty vessels to fill. It reminds me everyday of how blessed I am to have the kind of parents I have who’ve provided me with so much more than I could have asked for. *Touchwood*. To me this is like a driving force. I want to make myself able enough to give something back to the world and the children of God. All the things that their parents are perhaps not able to fulfill due to hunger. Sometimes I feel like closets were never made for people. Closets are for fear, hunger and the fear of hunger. Lock it up and throw the keys into the eternal sea.