pic courtesy: Mid-day.com
(the woman and the child in this picture are the not the one seen by me. This is purely for representational purpose)
Mumbai, a city of dreams, a city that never sleeps, but if these eyes are wide open, then why do we turn a blind eye to the the plight of those who forever remain in the dark?
The Mumbai local is the lifeline of the city, lakhs of citizens commute daily, bearing the crowd, the long travel hours, the dust, the sweat just to make it to work and back home. In this ride, we often we come across commuting beggars, the most famous being the eunuchs, who’d be in your face seeking that that just one buck.
The other common sight is of the blind beggars they come alone, or in pairs – accompanied by spouse/sibling or the recurring disturbing sight of a blind adult being accompanied by a little child. While travelling to work on the first day of new job in Worli, I came across the latter wherein a blind woman was being guided by a little boy, probably aged 5-7. Both the woman and the child very decently dressed, and at first look, you’d ponder whether the woman is really blind.
Trust is the most difficult thing to find and blind trust is deemed foolhardy. Sadly, most commuters have taken the ‘blind trust’ to the blind too. That explains, why most of them merely turn a blind eye to such sight.
Last year, I was privy to scenes wherein a blind couple were carrying a toddler waiting to board a train from Andheri. It was my duty to help them board the train. In my conversation with them, I learnt that they weren’t beggars but had come from Pune to take part in charitable event in Mumbai, organised by the local MLA who was to dole out cash and other useful things to the blind. I was moved by their tale, but felt helpless as I couldn’t really offer them money, nor could I drop them as I couldn’t enter the bogey for the physically challenged.
Turn to 4th January 2015, the sight of the little boy holding his blind mother’s hand and begging in train hit me really hard. I don’t breakdown but may be therein lies the problem as the emotions get choked up in the heart, making you uneasy for the rest of the day.
I took out a penny and extended my hand to place it in the ladies’ hand, but the little boy raised his arm and took over. I gently placed it in his tiny hand, rubbed my palm on his head, and then took out a ten rupee note and gave it to them. The poor boy took it and then caught his mother’s hands pulling her perhaps to catch the next train and resume their sole activity.
As he left, the boy hardly smiled and at that moment it dawned upon me that how can God be so cruel? Here’s a little child, at best 5-7 years of age, and is it his destiny to do this for the rest of his life? How can the child afford to have a smile on his face, when he’s spending most of the day and night guiding his blind mother in and out of packed trains daily?
Now, there’ll be those who’ll point to me that such kids are merely used as pawns in the business of begging. Little teary-eyed children melt the emotional hearts. There’s a strong possibility that perhaps this woman may not be blind, and that the child may not even be hers but what do we , (as healthy commuters) have to offer them?
NOTHING! We just by-pass them thinking that they are tricksters. That may be true in some cases, but I wonder why do we never ever give a thought about such little children. How many of us have wondered about the dangers facing this little child whilst travelling in crowded trains?
Here’s a tiny tot, guiding his mother into Mumbai locals, Imagine how you’d feel if your little child has to guide you into crowded trains/ buses. Now, most of us would be livid at the very thought and we’d immediately hug our child and pray that you’d rather die than to ever see your child in such a pity. If we can never envisage such suffering for our own, then why do we ignore such little beggars?
As I headed to work, I constantly kept thinking of the boy. We live in dark times where evil is always lurking around to nab an easy prey. Railway stations are littered with pick-pocketers, pimps, eve-teasers, kidnappers. A blind mother and her little child are ripe for the taking for such evil. Add to it, the numerous accidents that place in Mumbai locals, railways stations and what we have here is a potentially dangerous situation for such kids and their parents.
Not too long ago, I read a story how a mentally challenged girl was raped and killed by savages from Haryana. There are numerous cases where the blind, physically and mentally weaker civilians have fallen prey to evil designs.
So, with a heavy heart, I appeal to all citizens that we must look out for such poor children. They don’t need our money, they need our vigilance. They are weak, blind but have we shut our eyes and conscience to the plight of such kind? Wake up, feel your hearts, rub your eyes and see ‘the blind is staring you in the face.’
NOTE: : This article is not for garnering sympathy for the weak, nor is this writer eyeing philanthropy. All that one hope’s is the whosoever reads it, albeit a few, they spare few minutes thinking about it. For it is a mere thought, that may trigger a change.