DISPARITY

It was a very special and long awaited day of Diwali. I had a tiring day. Like every year, I was busy in Diwali preparations like dusting, cleaning, preparing garlands etc. My wife was also busy in preparing Rangoli, cleaning the temple and arranging stuff for all the rituals. In the meanwhile, I was thinking about one more task that was pending. There is a company named as Icertis on SB road, Pune. They had given us (SNEH Foundation) sweets to distribute among kids. Although it was a long day with lot of work, I had it in mind that I need to go to the labor camp to distribute the sweets.

I had a lot of thoughts in mind
like ..will they like the sweets as they might also had bought the same or will
they say “we don’t want sweets, give us some money or fire crackers” or how
will I start distributing as I don’t know anyone there.  These thoughts were holding me back so I
thought to take someone along with me. I called some of my friends but they were
all busy in Diwali preparations. I asked my wife too but as our 1-year-old kid
was sleeping, she had to finish other chores as well. She could not come even
if she wished to. Finally, I decided to go alone with lot of questions and
thoughts in my mind.

When I reached the site at around
6 PM, I was surprised to see that it looked like a normal day for them. Some
men were sitting and chatting. Women were busy in preparing food and in other household
chores. Some kids were playing and some were just sitting together chatting.
All kids were in their normal dress like old torn and dirty clothes. Yes, it is
very well normal for them.  I told one
person that I am here to distribute sweets among the kids. He was happy to hear
this and he called all the kids. In no time, I could see almost 10-15 kids
around me. Kids seemed to be unkempt, they had running noses and uncombed hair.
There was happiness in their eyes or maybe they were expecting something from
me. I started distributing sweets with Diwali wishes. I had sweets in two types
and shapes, one was rectangular and the other was a rolled one. Some kids came
back and said “bhaiya humko ye wali bhi chahiye”. I smiled and gave them the
desired one. They said thanks and wished me back. 

I had lot of sweets so I started
distributing sweets by going to each tin shaded home. I could not see any
Diwali preparation at their homes. No decoration, no cleaning, no lighting,
nothing seemed like it was Diwali. I could only see one lady who was preparing
Rangoli. I went further and saw some bachelors who were preparing food. I also
met one woman who used to be our maid servant earlier. I gave sweets to her as
well and she invited me to her home. I went inside the home. It was just a
small 6*8 feet room which was dark from inside may be because of smoke from the
typical chulha. Her husband was lying on ground and watching TV. They had three
kids. There was a small kitchen in one corner. Not everything in that small
room was managed well because of space crunch. I sat for five minutes and left
after wishing them. Suddenly one kid came and said, “Bhaiya wo safed wala
mithai jyada acha tha, peela wala acha nhi laga mere ko”. I said , “acha, agle
bar safed wala hi launga”. I was feeling like I am cheating on myself as the
sweets I distributed were donated by Icertis but I was taking credit as I was a
front face for them.  

On the way back home, I had
different thoughts. This time the thoughts were stronger than the time when I
was about to visit the site. What Diwali meant to them? How their kids
celebrate Diwali? Do they celebrate or do not celebrate any festival? Does any
festival mean anything to them?

We prepare for Diwali, clean and
decorate our home with lights, paints, rangolis etc.. We give new dress and
gifts to our kids. We do everything to make our festivals best. When we see the
marginalized communities which we call ‘labor class’ or ‘slums’ and which are
just few steps away from our lavish lifestyle, I do not feel good about it. I
wish if we can spend even 5% of the sum we spent on ourselves, if we can spend
15 minutes to celebrate Diwali with them or if we can think and do something
for them, Diwali could be better for them and for us as well. The joy of giving
is far better than the joy of spending on ourselves or may to buy happiness for
ourselves.

Here I see two different
communities staying just next to each other. One is where we reside where we
celebrate each festival with great joy because we are blessed or we have earned
this lifestyle. On the other hand there is a community that according to us is
not so blessed or cursed to have the lifestyle that is not privileged. With all
my experience I have shared about what I can strongly say that there is a huge
DISPARITY and we can definitely do something about it if we wish and decide to
bring the change.

Mr. Mohan Sahu

Comments

  1. Very well written Mohan!!! Very thoughtful!

  2. Very well quoted. A reality which we know but, somewhere in our busy and lavish lifestyle, seem to overlook. Let’s do our bit even if it gives meaning to festivity for just 1 soul.

  3. Sneh Sneh Sneh.

  4. Very well articulated Mohan,so thoughtful and moving article

  5. Thoughtful and inspiring article…to spend 5 % of sum and 15 minutes of time with those people, to enjoy not just the joy of spending but also the joy od sharing and giving.

  6. Very much generous and thoughtful.

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