Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Hope steps out

On my morning walk.  Have just dropped Asha off at school.  Its 6.48 AM.  Which way to go?

Lets not take the path trodden yesterday.

As I walk away from the school, I pass busses disgorging children.  The school has at least 42 busses.  We reckon Asha and Enoch have 7200 other students studying in their alma mater.

The by-lanes I take have trickles of students coming towards me.  The green checked pinafores of the girls and the dark green shorts of the boys complement the cream shirts both wear.   Other school uniforms are also seen as kids are walking to school.

Its quiet and green.  The grey overhead sky decides not to drop rain.  I carry a small umbrella rolled up to defend me if it does.

My walk takes me to smaller lanes.  I want to find a way over a large walled unused plot.  I know there must be a way since there is a village behind it, nestled at the base of the green hills of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

photo by M. Appleby
My feet take me in the direction I expect a path to be.  I turn into a lane that looks like a dead end.  A man walks out.  Is he a resident of the lane, or has he come from a path?  I think I have made a mistake and am in a residential society, but I press on.

Yes!  In the corner of the compound there is an opening.  A few steps up and I am inside the compound.  Its huge - much bigger than I expected.  And so green.  Thick monsoonal grass covers most of it.  A set of dark cinder block roads snake their way across it - the path soon turns to the normal earthen one - snaking its way through lush green grass.  The brooding grey clouds behind bring out the dew-speckled greens so much the more.

I wonder at the large roofless concrete buildings I am passing.  Some kind of a factory was here.  Why did it stop?  Why is this land vacant?

Then I see what has remained in my mind all day.

A young school girl coming towards me.  As if she stepped out of another planet.  Immaculate uniform.

I know where she is coming from.  The 'village' is really a small shanty-town.  What home did she sleep in last night?  Who are her parents?  What hoops has she jumped to come so far?

And then she is not alone.  Ahead I see a group of young boys and another two girls walking down the mud path towards school, towards hope.

Its just past 7 AM now - but here is a generation that is seeking to step out of where they grew up.  Education gives some promise of making that step.  When they leave their shanty-town, and walk to the bus-stop for school or college, these young people blend in with all their fellows.

Looking at their immaculate grooming and crisp uniforms you will never know how many others shared a tiny 8 x 10 ft room with them.

As I continued walking my prayers went out to the homes I was now passing.  I had walked through a small breach in the wall and into the village where the kids came from.  The muddy lanes and the ramshackle shoddy buildings, the odd adult standing outside staring.  How many use alcohol to airbrush out their daily misery? 

And how many other young people from their village are fed up with school?  How many young girls have decided to start working in the homes of the posh apartments nearby - cleaning the floors and making chappattis in a series of homes in order to bring in cash.  How many boys are tired of being last since they do not get coaching - and have decided instead to hang out with their friends and earn the odd buck in odd and odder jobs?

I prayed for the people behind the brick and mud homes as I skirted the some of the outer parts of the village before going down to meet the main road again.

But I had seen hope.  Hope take steps.

No comments:

Post a Comment