Thursday, January 20, 2011

Will she ever move up?

She lives in one of the most affluent suburbs of India's richest city. She counts Bollywood megastars as her neighbours, but neither is even aware of the other. She is a short walk away from a multi-speciality hospital, but doesn't have access to basic healthcare. There are five-star hotels nearby; she struggles to find enough to eat. She passes designer boutiques everyday, but has never owned a new set of clothes. She had a family once, but no longer remembers anything of them.
The street is her home. The sky is her roof. Will she ever move up in life?


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A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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15 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Rayna - What a striking and moving study in contrasts! And I would be willing to bet that the Bollywood stars, elegant restaurateurs and other wealthy people in the area have absolutely no idea who that woman is or how she lives. To them, she is probably heartbreakingly invisible...

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Margot - you summed up in 2 words what I struggled to do in 100. That she is "heartbreakingly invisible" is the tragedy - if people just saw her, they may be more compassionate.

kmckendry said...

It is heart-wrenching. I think people see it and feel pain but only for the moment. They ask, "What can I really do to help?" Then they fall back into the rhythms of their own worries.

Mary Vaughn said...

Perhaps she has moved higher than any of us.

Pk Hrezo said...

Beautiful, Rayna--the picture and the words.

Rek said...

Its in Mumbai that the contrast between rich and poor is so visible...though its a poor excuse, the average Mumbaikar is so caught in paying his/her bills and retaining a roof over their heads that they pretend not to care or have learned not to care...
And then there are those who refuse to be helped...there is a new local community Beggar's Home near my apartment in Coimbatore where they have a concrete dormitory and free meals...yesterday one of the inmates injured the watchman with an iron rod and escaped...whether he was badly treated out there or prefers the streets/begging, no one can say...

Danette said...

There are answers to problems like this... the problems of poverty. It just seems that the world is not ready to deal with them. We are too anxious to maintain the status quo for the wealthiest without regard for the women on the street. And it would take real courage for that kind of change- something that is also lacking, I fear.

Jacqueline Howett said...

First let me say, what an amazing image, the stairs, painted like that, wow! A very unique shot.

Yes this story is sad. It also has a reverse story too, I wrote a short piece once on an Italian lady going down the garbage here in America, in Maine actually, for garbage cans to live after her husband died. She could sell them to make money. I thought, how this is someones mother. I wrote, shame on you Americans to call this the land of the proud when your Mother is in the trenches of life, while you eat at the finest resturants. But now life here for those once rich have no health care and are loosing their houses and so on. A lot has changed. There are many in America in top notch jobs just barely getting by due to the cost of living, which seems almost hard to believe, then there's the lack of jobs suddenly that has hit hard so many. But I do agree, still, there is a great gap between the poor and rich which local goverments need to do more, even here in America, no one cares. You need scruples to survive. If you don't have a car here, you can't get a job, and if you don't have money for a car... This picture is very touching. Don't hese rich people give her money?

Dorte H said...

What a contrast between her story and the beauty behind her.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's sad. Homeless people are universal.

Jemi Fraser said...

Homeless and disparity are so sad. Another thing we need to work harder to fix

Hart Johnson said...

This was really beautiful, Rayna. I think in MANY countries there is that amazing contrast, but in cities where being in the inner city is a sign of prestige and success, these contasts are all the more stark. of course in the US, when there is any big event, they go through and 'relocate' these people so they can pretend to the world they don't exist. It's an atrocity.

Jan Morrison said...

exquisite writing, Natasha. And an incrediably evocative photo - so rich and full. Luminous really. Thank you.

dipali said...

This brings Sahir Ludhianvi's immortal lines to mind:
rehney ko ghar nahin hai
saara jahaan hamaara
(We don't have a house to live in
the whole world is ours)

Sometimes one needs to wear blinkers to survive:(

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ kmckendry - if people do even that, I would not mind. But when Slumdog Millioinaire was released, people actually said "poverty of that kind doesn't exist in the city"- they were right. The poverty is even worse, but they choose not to see.

@ Mary - either that, or sunk so low you cannot imagine. She's virtually stopped reacting.

@ Pk Hrezo - thank you

@ Rek - I knew a guy like that. He sleeps on the street at night and hawks magazines by day. When we got him into a shelter, he refused to go- he didn't want to give up his freedom!

@ Danette - what you say is so true, and so sad.

@ Jacqueline - thank you.
Inequities are always hard to deal with, aren't they. Some people do give her money and food, but most people don't even notice her. But there are enough people around who care enough to ensure she doesn't starve.

@ Dorte - it is so sad, isn;t it?

@ Alex - and sadder still when the problem is not even acknowledged.

@ Jemi - it is the inequities taht get to me sometimes.

@ Hart - relocating people is another thing that seems universal. And such a tragedy. If you are ashamed of it, do something, do not sweep it under the carpet.

@ Jan - thank you so much.

@ dipali - you and I need to because we are affected by this. But most people just don't care.

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