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The Legacy Of Indifference

There are only two reasons for silence: you either have nothing to talk about, or too much to talk about. In case of this blog being silent for more than a week, it is the latter. There has been things happening every second of every minute and I am just not sure what to write and what to skip!Street Smart is happily and imperfectly settled at Gandhi Park. We brought in a football recently and in the brief moments when the kids are not going crazy and fighting among themselves or hanging off branches on trees, we do manage to play a little bit! It was a lot of fun but it required more control on Shaila’s part and on mine too, so we decided to let football happen on Sundays when we have Gudakesh, who can actually run!Doon School boys came over on one Satuday and they have promised to now come in every week to interact with the children. This, we feel is a brilliant idea because equally important as the street kids learning from peers, the affluent kids must also learn about the harsh realities of life that they are otherwise not exposed to. Shaila recently attended a wonderful talk by Harsh Mander where the most inspiring line was about how our parents have left us with this legacy of indifference that is the reason why we, the privilidged allow others to go hungry and to live life in impoverished conditions. We completely agree with this and so anything to facilitate this very important learning by the affluent kids will be done by us. Welham Boys, another prestigious boarding school for boys will also send its students to us twice a week and it promises to be an experience that will be chaotic at the beginning but an immensely enriching one.

Everyday in our work, we meet examples of how the societal prejudices rule the minds and actions of people. From a few who tell us point blank that the street children are a lost cause to others who come up and tell us how wonderful we are to be hugging children they would not even walk near to yet others who ask us what we are doing about the morals  that are so lacking in the children; the insensitivity is in many cases, almost an oppressive feeling that begins to bring the spirits down into cynicism. But at the beginning of Street Smart, Shaila had passed a no-flinch rule. She said that no matter what we unearth about the street children as we work with them, we will not step back from the work. Now, more than 7 weeks later I have resolved to adopt the no-flinch rule with the affluent people since they are the ones who have the flinch-worthy traits!

So I am not flinching when a man comes up to me and says he will donate rupees 25000 if I guide his very artistic little nephew into being an artist but adds adamantly that he wont have his nephew sitting down with the rag pickers and beggars. I am not flinching when people come forward and say the children should be asked to come to school clean and well-dressed, even though it shows their inability to apply their minds when they expect that street kids will have access to water or bath facility. I am especially not flinching when people come in with ideas of  “You must”s and “You should”s though I swear by all that is holy it does make me want to b****-slap somebody!

See our kids are a victim of circumstances but the affluent sections of our society are victims of choices. So as Street Smart grows, I may just have identified what is to me, the real disease- indifference and the real patients- the have’s!

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