Poverty Unlimited

I unlocked the gate and slowly slid the door latch. A small noise from the rusty hinges erupted since I don’t use this back door very often. I was worried that the culprits would run away and all my efforts to catch at least one of them would be wasted.

The iron door was heavy and stiff. I pushed with all my might to open it. I was greeted by a death-like silence. I peeped through the space I had created between the wall and the door. A bunch of children were awaiting me-their worst nightmare. They looked at me, paralysed, spellbound and anxious. Their eyes widened and their heart began to pound heavily in their meager chests. With a calculated pace, I slowly made my way out of the door, like a hungry cat stalking the mouse it wants to devour.

A soft whisper swept through the children; I was planning to unleash my anger. I stepped out of the gate and was now in full view of them. The silence died suddenly in an outburst of shrieking flight. They left their cricket pitch and scattered themselves in all directions.

Hurriedly, and sharp-eyed with anger I peered for the weak link among them. Suddenly, I detected a thin child, standing near the gate of the opposite house. Instead of running away he was observing my moves. I had now found my target. Slowly, I stepped down to the road and walked towards him, giving him every opportunity to run away.

The children were aware of my intentions as I had shouted at them many a times for giving me sleepless holidays. They had chosen the place below my bedroom window as their playground and made the walls of the house shake with their joyful riots after school. They were all locals. The road beside my house hardly faces any traffic and has become the top place for gangs of roaring youngsters. The bright street light makes it a playing heaven even at night.

I crossed the road and gathered my pace towards the boy standing on the opposite end. The bright yellow light carved the lines and illuminated the deep sorrow that hung on his face. I could witness his eyes observing all my moves, and it seemed he was already prepared for the worst.

I caught him by his arm and asked him “Don´t you have any business but torturing honest people who want to get some rest in their homes?” Our eyes met. His eyes seemed to reflect my past, my own childhood. With a lifeless face and a heavy heart he answered “I was not involved.” I took this response as his trick, a lie to fool me. I looked at him with frustration pouring out of my eyes and then, I let go of his arm and said, “Go now”.

I stood there watching him from behind as he walked away. He was wearing a faded shirt and a small pair of trousers. The end of this trouser-leg was frayed into loose threads from being worn continuously. I looked at his feet. Bare. He probably had no shoes. The road was so hot that I couldn’t have imagined going barefoot at this time of the day. With little steps, he slipped out into the darkness.

Tears filled my eyes. I cursed myself for scolding a little destitute soul who possibly wouldn’t have anything to do with my frustration. The frustration that was growing within me, as I am confronted with the widespread poverty all around. At bus stops, near traffic signals, hospitals and the list is unending. It saddens me to see small children selling naphthalene balls, hair bands, cheap toys and kid’s dresses near Charminar. They don’t know what 2+2 adds up to, but they have learned that they have to sell to satisfy their hunger at the end of the day.

I feel dejected by our society when I see old age people begging for alms near traffic lights. They cannot walk but try to reach every rider, every passerby, to help themselves survive for the day.

Every day I read the newspaper, before leaving for work, and find beauty pageant posing with orphans as a new fashion, Page 3 displaying all the glorious parties in the town, big and colorful ads attracting consumers to their doorsteps, gossips about cricketers, politicians, celebrities and so on. However, the newspaper lacks news about the real Hyderabad. And it isn’t Hyderabad alone: it’s a reality of every growing city in India.

With great pain in my heart, I walked up the steps and entered my dining room, its table spread with every available delicacy. Before I could digest this reality, I went back, peeped out of the still-open gate-only to find that the little destitute soul had left forever…

(This article was published in Austrian literary magazine Driesch June 2010 issue.)

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17 thoughts on “Poverty Unlimited

  1. Balaji

    Sajid, I completely agree to the abjure poverty in India and that prevalence is solely due to egoistic tendencies of people. Those who are not suitable for Darwin’s theory are the scapegoats of poverty. But, what are we doing for its eradication gets occupied in my mind when I read these kind of incidents. I think we can reduce its intensity by offering education to the economically backward. So, let us do something to get ourselves satisfied……..

  2. Iqbal

    Beautiful prose and touching indeed. There is something that we can do to serve our bit. Giving alms doesn’t help much, nor helping them set up a business. The best thing that can be done, especially for the children bearing with poverty, in their innocence, is Education. You can try and take up the education of one poor kid. See him through school and college and maybe a professional diploma. One educated and employed kid per family will more than make up for their suffering inshallah.

    Especially the girl child, instead of suffering her drunk father’s wrath and later on the abuse from the husband and the in-laws, a capable and educated girl will do more to uplift the plight of today’s girl child.

    Remembering these famous lines- give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him to fish and you feed him for life.

  3. Zafar

    A very touching article indeed.
    When ever we are not in a hurry for life and observe all this around us, we feel sad for “FEW MOMENTS”. Then we again get busy into our lives.
    Neither are we willing to devote our time for them, nor is our selfish stingy self permitting us to give even as little as Rs 10 to some charity per month.
    So, we continue to turn blind, till real blindness come to us. Still unprepared to answer to thy.
    So, India continues to be poor monetarily and we by deeds.

  4. Manu

    Sajid wonderfully written.

    Happy to see that you have continued blogging even after I left Hyderabad. I was under the impression that you posted on the blog just to get me off your back asi was perpetually after you to improve your writing skills by writing a blog.

  5. Bhagwad Jal Park

    Nicely written Sajid – didn’t know you had a poetic bent of mind :)

    I’m afraid we won’t be able to do anything about mass scale poverty in our lifetimes. It’ll take at least another 100 years – minimum. And that’s not a reflection of incapacity. It’s the only way.

    The kid you saw may not rise out of poverty. But his children might. And if not, their children will have a much better chance…

  6. Arwa

    Sajid u have a kind heart and so you observed this and wrote about it.But such hearts are few and so such pity situations are many.But you know sajid the sad reality is that such writings may melt some people’s hearts but no one is ever going to remember this story for long,not even me, after some while and we all will get busy again in our lives…writing a new story, reading some other blogs ,doing social networking etc….instead my true opinion is that one should write a post which will give some practical solutions to wipe away such problems from our country.Then my mind will have enuf ideas which i can actually apply in my daily life.And hence no one,not even me, will ever complain ” i know the problem dude but how can i alone solve it ??…”

  7. Kiran

    Hi Sajid, Excellent written. This article shown every frame in front of my eyes while reading. Its a true fact that, street children, orphans and old people are visible every corner in the city struggling to live. Its really heart touching subject chosen. But I feel one should take steps forward to reduce poverty at least from one’s end with one’s thoughts, which can be implemented at one’s level. If everyone thinks and implements in the same way, there will be no far away the day we see everyone lives happy.

  8. batul

    It surely touched my heart.Very nicely written.I also believe that if we could educate even a single poor child we could contribute something.Sometimes I wonder they are so many NGOs,may be we can volunteer with them and make some difference.

  9. Nusrath Hussain

    hi bro
    excellently composed article

    this is a part and parcel of our society. whether we want it or not it has been existing in our society since ages and will exist until and unless we unite to do something about it at our personal level. alms donation to big organisations may work but a better step would be if we ourself take up the responsibility to feed a chi;d everyday, to teach a child every weekend and it would really be great if we would spread this message and your feelings to as many as possible and stop thinking and start working today itself.
    after all life is too short and i dont wanna repent later for not helping the needy…

  10. Roma Bhadoria

    That’s d real picture of poverty in our country…u hv described d whole truth in dis small article…people like big celebrities n business tycoons who call themselves social workers, sitting in there air conditioned rooms n offices dont even look bk after they gt there chqs n photoshoots done infrnt of media…..the real heroes dont bother about name n fame…dey just do there work silently n go…our country needs thes kind of heroes who cn take thorns out frm this little flowers n give them a happy life to enjoy there childhood..we need to understand instead of giving big charities in temples or other centers, v cn help these kids by providing them with there necessities…n lighten their n our country’s future….thnx fr waking me up n sprdn awareness thru dis post…its a gr8 gr8 post..god bless u

  11. suri mahrani

    Sajid, impresive note. I agree with your thought, your concern for kids … the future and real fact that somethimes this world is not fair for kids.
    Go go go for your dream, so what we can do for kids future without goverment concern …. ?

  12. Abida Banu

    Sajid bhaiyya

    Very well presented. the detailing is impressive. but the fact remains that nothing much is happening towards this direction. i read about such things in magazine articles. a few social workers cannot reach all the parts of the city. but it is good to know that people are concerned towards this issue. keep spreading the awareness……

    Abida Banu

  13. Abdul Rasheed

    Dear Sajid
    What you have wrriten is totally true to the core!!! But how many people have this concern for the “POOR”. At the most what we do is put the hand in the pocket only to check for a coin of smallest value then give it. As you said the children &; infirmold aged are there at almost every trafic signal either selling something or expecting something from every passer by. At times some people instead of paying a rupee coin to the destitutes , They look at them with such a scaring face and harse words without realising about the pain caused to the little heart &; soul of that child & infirm old aged human beings. Alas !!! every soul had the same feelings.
    Well, There was only a single soul on this earth who was siscerely concerned &; worried for these childern N that was “MOTHER TERESA” too unfortunately she is nomore!!! The people who are actually suppose to help is our POLITICIANS. But they are busy in the business of making money instead of giving!!
    At the end all I can say is that only the Almighty should give us ( WE ALL ) enough courage &; firm intention to eradicate this issue of ‘Helpless, Infirm, Destitues’ !!!
    Simply wonderfully u hv highlighted the issue.Congratulations n Keep writing.

    Abdul Rasheed

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