It was a big day for them and for me too. The young girls wore flowers on their hair - Jasmine and roses, along with the school ribbons. Some of them wore jewellery above their shirt collars. Girls! Even when the uniforms are faded and not ironed properly, a rose in the hair and a shining stuff around our necks gives us the confidence to take on the world. Almost all of them did not wear shoes except for those in the higher classes.
Was involved in a medical Camp in rural Bangalore for children. There were lots of them, in fact much more than we had anticipated, all poor and many ill. Children to my right, children to my left, children children everywhere. I was not prepared for such enormity in the number but the experience was very fulfilling in terms of actually witnessing life beyond IT, the sheer ubiquity of poverty and the awful contrast to the lives of some in the city a few kilometers away.
It was an eye-opener to the population figure of our country and what it could mean. So far, it had only been statistics, ______ no. of children do not have access to medical facilities, _____ no. of children drop out of school by _____ age.
Many of them suffered from jaundice. The teacher said the parents knew but did nothing. There was a 9 yr old, who was deaf but neither the teachers nor his parents knew about it. Everyone including us were stunned when the medical check-up revealed this. There was this little one, who was physically disabled, launching himself in a shuddering gait to measure his weight, and another 6 yr old, who cried as he was scared to climb on the weighing machine, having never seen one. They were all there; the smart ones, the silent ones, the cute ones, and the naughty ones.
If some director has spotted a muse from a newspaper; she was my Yamini- Deepika, 8th standard, sitting poised among her classmates.
We hear so much about children these days and how parents send them for piano, painting, Shiamak Davars, Bharatnatyam classes and what have yous? They don’t have time to be themselves; they don’t have time for bruises on their knees. They need to know verses and lines from Milton and Shakespeare, to enter an LKG. When they get 98%, parents ask them where has the other 2 % gone. These are children of our times and those were children of our times too - waiting eagerly for the medical proceedings to get over just to claim their share of eatables from us and run home.
The prescription, and the medicines really didn’t matter.
Well, I was out from 6 in the morning and then back by 7.30 pm. Thought I would sleep early or indulge in one of those unashamed escapism of Bollywood movies, but watched I am Sam. I don’t know if it was the whole experience of the day or just me. I was so moved by the movie that I cried until my head ached.