Why is their pain not pain enough?
Death-and-decay is all around. Thousands of migrant laborers are crossing cities on foot. Pictures are surfacing and stories are being told, of a man whose face is twisted into grief, a mother who leaves her newborn behind on the road and continues to walk further, several dozen of them crushed on the railway tracks and chapattis lying around. This is not a political post, otherwise, I would have liked to mention how dogs are being brought back from the US on airplanes. I have no memory of living below the means. But it is in my genes. – this migrant attitude. I am very fond of walking, and I will tell you why!
Less than two generations ago, we were not any better doing than thousands of these people. My grandfathers were so poverty-stricken that they would walk miles on foot, from one village to another. When they would eat groundnuts, and eat the shells too because they could not afford to get hungry within a few hours. They could not afford. They grew out of it, the poverty, eventually. But they still valued these experiences and used to narrate them to us now and then.
Once his bicycle got stolen from the public park. We were waiting for him over lunch. Then we got restless and went around the local area to find him. He showed up two hours later, his head covered with a handkerchief, tears rolling down his face.
My grandpa, my old man. He had a lot of money then. But the poverty and the experiences that had made a place in his heart, made him value everything. Is a bicycle worth so many tears? I had thought. So many people are now walking on the roads. A bicycle would have been better. Is a bicycle too much?
I clean the house and find a little diary in which my grandfather had written his story in two very little pages. I feed the cattle. I go to the farm and work… it begins and ends very quickly. I become an accountant; get transferred to Allahabad. Just two tiny pages. That is how concisely somebody’s entire life can be summed up. Two tiny pages, or a photograph.
I used to wonder all this long; why am I so fond of poverty! On my way to the library, an old woman used to sit on the roadside, near her plastic tent in which she used to sleep. I used to look at her and think if I were to live like that, I would too manage. “No problem!”, I’d tell myself. Looking at her, I would see a part of myself. I once told my mother about this feeling; “You’re an idiot!”, she had said. I went to check; the tent is removed. The woman is gone. And now we are all looking at these pictures thinking how profound, how picturesque these are. People lined up like ants. Spaces are so crowded, there is no space for emotion. Still, these pictures fly around. Still, these stories are told.
Two generations later, another girl, hopefully in a comfortable house and plenty of food like me, would be thinking of her grandfather who had also once walked miles on foot to save himself and his gene which now is she herself.
This pandemic is from the pit of hell and would not take over my people. They would be made well, and our land will be healed. Don’t get too comfortable yet. Let your heart be troubled and pray over these people if you can do absolutely nothing else. God is a God of endless mercy.
I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Ps27:13
Featured Image by: Akhil suryajith