Till the rains come.

Her grandson hung loosely from her hip. Lacking the energy to steady his head lolling from side to side. He was badly in need of food.


Yet as she implored me for some money I knew she had not been doing this for long. For the hundreds of beggars I pass every day have a permanent look carved onto their faces. A look to evoke pity. But her smile is warm. The shine in her eyes real.
Where are u from ?
Sholapur, she said. There were no rains and the fields were dry. No one was hiring labour, and there was no food or water. 20 of her community walked, hitched rides on top of trains and buses to come to Mumbai.
To beg for food, shelter and water. This is after all the city of dreams.
Where do u live ?
Wherever we find the space.
Which means the streets, the shelters under the highways. The narrow spaces on the dividers between the roads. Real Estate is at a premium here, even to put down your head to sleep on the streets
Her grandaughter walked upto me. Hand stretched out to beg, but her heart not in it. Not yet. anyway. It had not yet become a profession. She smiled the most stunning smile, eyes still sparkling with hope and optimism. All of sixteen.
We will go back soon to sholapur, she said to my question.
When ?
When the rains come. When the crops grow. When there is food and shelter.
That I knew, and she knew, would be not till the next monsoons a year from now. Would this community exist together for a year ? Would the warmth in her eyes, and the sparkle in her grandaughter’s eyes survive that long ?
Or would this family be indistinguishable from the permanently etched and grimaced faces of al the others.
My daughter’s school bus arrived and she stepped out laughing. The old lady laughed too. She asked for her name and blessed her. I gave her some money and she bent to touch my feet. I said no. In the same square mile we existed on different planets. But at this moment I wanted to be her equal. Equal in their hope. Equal in their dignity. Praying that somehow they may be able to survive the onslaught of the city.
I drove home, as Suresh, my driver laughed.
You really got taken in didn’t you, sir. Have u not been watching TV ? There has been so much rain in Sholapur that their are floods everywhere !
He is wrong. He must be wrong.
Shekhar

7 Responses to “Till the rains come.”

  1. heather says:

    oh, my god. bless your heart, Shekhar, for still being open and having a hope, and if you were taken in, good on you, sir.

  2. Cinda says:

    …you did what you needed to do, follow your heart and instincts. Such an act will shed light on the situation, no matter what brought them to that point.
    Blessings be to thee, Shekhar
    Cinda

  3. Umashankar says:

    “In the same square mile we existed on different planets” – Thats one brilliant line to express. Hope you are right, because in this never ending mystery of right and wrong, good and bad, truth and lie… what we would have really lost is innocence. Money is merely another channel to run to that sad end.

  4. Priyesha says:

    Hmmm….. when i saw you today, at crosswords. Sitting on the couch, with such simplicity, i doubted what i was thinking was true. I ran for help to my mother and she said – “you idiot its shekhar ji!”. I was wondering — is this the same person who made films i have been hearing about when i was just 11? Hats off to you Sir!
    To listen to one’s heart and to follow it are two different things. YOu did the best.
    Thank you
    Traveler

  5. kedar says:

    hi dude…
    this is the third comment i am putting today on your site. i liked the way you are trying to keep in touch with the reality.
    but again…cut the shit, dude… mass evolution is a myth… compassion within us is the light to follow and not to weep and go on doing the same shit we do everyday… if one has guts to FOLLOW he will REACH…if one has guts to LET GO he will reach…if one has the guts to love NOTHINGNESS, he will become one!…so dont worry over such things…what you did was right at that moment..now the moment has gone…try to understand the subtle games of MIND…what do mean by you wanted to eual her at that moment… try to donate all your materialistic wealth next time any one like that poor woman…just try and imagine what will you do next?… do that without donating anything…you are already walking on the path but it seems something is holding you back…dont lie to yourself…ACCEPT… lots of love…kedar…

  6. shekhar says:

    u get it Kedar, the battle is the mind trying to come to terms with the truth. And words are just words till u experience nothingness. Then their are absolutely no words. There is no compassion that is seperate from becoming compassionate, there is no donating from me to the woman, because there is no seperation between her and me, if we are not individuals.
    So I aregue my mind into absolute chaos, try and get to the truth through thinking and writing about it. For my mind does not really exist does it ? But it does create an illusion, and it is that very illusion that you and I are communicatng through.
    shekhar

  7. Swati says:

    Hi Shekhar,
    I’ve a question on your last lines ‘He is wrong. He must be wrong.’
    my quest is that why is your heart asking for a justification? does it really matter whether he is wrong or right, Shekhar?
    lotsa potsa love
    swati

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