It was a very special and
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