I always loved winters. I loved the cold and the lovely warm times that it brought with it, when I snuggled under enormous blankets, sipping hot Bournvita milk, reading Enid Blyton books or playing board games with my siblings. And if you asked me what the most beautiful thing in the world was, I would say the cold, winter rain and what it does to trees and the grass in Dehradun.It is funny how as a society we choose to cover our eyes and our senses to reality and choose to see mirages to convince us that everybody is as happy as we are. One year ago, I began to see the world for what it really was when I joined Street Smart. I saw a 14 year old boy in a jacket and jeans in the Astley Hall alleyway with his 6 year old sister, both of them shaking uncontrollably in the freezing winter morning. I saw families huddled around miserable excuses for bonfires and running to take cover under the parapet outside closed shops when it rained in December. I saw dearth of food and dearth of love. I saw little children left alone on the streets to beg, to fend for themselves, to be abused and beaten. I then saw them being labeled dirty, rude, delinquents, thieves and so much more.I began to hate everything for about one year thereafter. I hated the cold because I could not get images of shivering children out of my head. I hated summers because there was never enough water for them. I hated rains because they had to run and take shelter in the middle of the night and nobody should have to do that. I hated shops and clothes and blankets and McDonald’s burgers. Most of all, I hated people who were busy walking around like they were walking on clouds and rose petals and deliberately choosing to not see reality.
Here is the thing about reality. When you see the true face of it, you are heartbroken and disillusioned for a while. It makes you hate everything that you once thought was perfect and beautiful. It takes the joy away from your heart and leaves an unbearable vacuum in its place. But truth is important to learn. For it is only when you see something that is broken, ugly and wrong that you take the steps to mend it, to make it beautiful and to correct it. And this new beauty, this new reality that you then create is a million times better than anything you had previously experienced in your mirage.
The time that I have spent at Street Smart is one very small step towards creating that reality. I cannot write about the children without sounding all dramatic and fake but it just makes me incredibly happy to see glimpses of that wondrous beauty that could be, that will be real someday.
So I know now that one day I will love winters again.