I have been a Mumbaikar for nineteen years and three months now. That’s all my life.Maybe that’s why I am numb to a lot of things. Like the plight of the beggars during the rains, to see an urchin begging and touching me with his dirty hands when I travel in a Rickshaw, a man pulling a cart with his hands which is laden with heavy goods, young women and men working on construction sites and their babies running around barefoot and muddy with running noses, a eunuch touching me inappropriately as he or she claps his or her hands and begs for money, the pollution, the dust, the crowd, the dirt, my maid bending on her knees and working for hours on end so she can find money to study. Yes, I am immune to all of this and a lot more.
I don’t feel bad anymore. Is it because I see these things everyday? Or is it because I have put this in the back of my mind and accepted this as their fate or destiny. Their problem and not mine. Should I be worried? I rarely give money to beggars for fear that they may not use it for food and instead use it on other unnecessary vices or for fear that someone else might steal it from him. I have stopped giving money to eunuchs for a while now because they can find employment. For the labourers I feel a small amount of pity only because they are trying to earn a livelihood and aren’t resorting to begging. But otherwise I have just accepted these things as a part of life. That scares me.
I remember once, and this was around five years back, when I was coming out of McDonald’s holding a softy and the beggars outside just wouldn’t let me eat it. In the end I had to give it to them and I felt… angry. I’m ashamed I felt that way because I’ve had a million softies before and probably have a million more but those children were begging for a softy to be shared by eight others. I should have felt sadness or pity or guilt or some emotion that should’ve humbled me but instead I resorted to anger.
What if everyone starts thinking the way I do? What if everyone becomes insensitive like me, then what? What is this country heading towards? What is humanity heading towards? Because I’ll be educated and have a respectable job and earn decent amount of money and then spend all of it on spas and parties and clothes and yummy food.
But, what about them?