My friends are sleeping on a pavement. The water levels have risen, and it has become impossible to stay there any longer. I ask them where would they go, but there isn't much choice before them. All other pavements are already taken by someone or the other. The situation is not much better for them either, as the levels continue to raise. There's one tea-shop below ground level, and it becomes a pond when it rains. It is one of those smaller towns, probably somewhere in Kerala. Two little friends of mine, a boy and a girl, try to move to the nearby town. But by then, that town has become part of the first, as the city grows..
[It was raining last evening. It was also quite cold. I had an umbrella but my pants got wet. It wasn't so good a feeling. There have been times when I enjoyed getting wet (and rain was so romantic) but it wasn't like that yesterday. I shivered, my knees pained, the wetness itched. I changed to dry clothes as soon as I got home. I felt relieved. In the night, the blanket fell off my head for a while. It took so much for me to have a dream like that.]
Waking up from that dream took me to the Mumbai of 2005. The deadly rains. And that July 26. About four lakh people on the streets, their homes struck down by the authorities earlier that year. The Shanghai dream..
[NUMBER OF homes damaged by the tsunami in Nagapattinam: 30,300. Number of homes destroyed by the Congress-NCP Government in Mumbai: 84,000.
How agonised we are about how people die. How untroubled we are by how they live..
Some of us had read that one by Sainath. But even those who read it could not quite connect to what it would have been like for them during the rains. For many, it was about taxpayers' money, illegal occupation, stealing resources and cleaning up Mumbai.
We hardly cared to find out why so many people still keep migrating to our cities despite them being so unclean -- especially the areas they have to live in. And how bad their lives could be back in their villages. Not only in terms of being able to make a living -- also in terms of access to medical help, access to education for the children..]
..Some of my friends going door-to-door to collect relief. Disappointment on their faces, as they make many rounds and fail to get the message across.
The words are so powerless a means of communication!
[Wrting all this reminds me of another article titled "My Monsoons" that I read a few years back].