Live 8

The dust settled from the whirling of the helicopter blades. A hundred dark gaunt faces, ghost like, cautiously approached the fat machine. Women barely able to carry babies, their stomachs bloated and flies triumphantly gorging whatever little they could find around their oozing eyes and dry lips. No energy even to brush them away.

A hush as the fat machine delivered some people withe brightest eyes. Despite the heat and sweat, their faces full and almost gleaming, their bodies bursting with strength. The crowd stared. It had been two years since they has seen people as well fed as these. That was when the people in blue helmets had passed by and promised to return. They never did.
Aklilu looked at the new modern camera equipment that was brought out of the Machine. He had been the official news gatherer to the ministry of information. But that was six years before the famine came. Before his wife had died, neither able to feed herself nor the child in her womb.
The good looking face with the wide smile and white teeth asked ” Does anyone speak English here ?”.
“I do, Sir.” Replied Akhilu.
” We have come to get your reaction to Live 8 ” said White teeth.
“Live 8, Sir ?” Said Akhilu as he calmed the murmurs in the crowd that was getting denser.
The Blonde girl was anxiously pointing towards someone in the crowd. Akhilu thought she looked like a Goddess descended on Earth. She felt like the saviour.
“Food” assured Akhilu in the local dialect.
Zeinaba felt a stab of anxiousness. The Blonde girl was pointing directly at her. Beckoning her to come. Holding her one year old tight, she mustered all the strength she had, to walk the few paces to
the Blonde Girl. Fear gripped her as all their machines pointed directly at her. In her sixteen years on the planet, she had never seen a camera before.
The Blonde Girl smiled ” Tell her that there have been huge concerts all over the world. Million of people came and vowed to end Poverty in Africa.
Akhilu whispered to Zeinaba.
“She would like to know what a concert is” Said Akhilu.
” Well, all the most famous singers in the world went to all the major cities, and sang to the people. The people held hands and danced and all of them swore to end poverty in Africa. How does she feel about that ? Even Nelson Mandela attended”.
“And Bill Gates – the richest man in the world” Added White teeth.
Akhilu translated, but Zainaba just stared.
“4 Billion people watched the event” Urged the Blonde girl.
Akhilu, not wanting to offend the Blonde Goddess, urged Zainaba to say something.
” She wants to know what billion means” Translated Akhilu.
Knowing she had now driven home her point, the Blonde girl spread her arms wide, smiled stunningly and said ” It’s like the whole world. The whole world has made a commitment to eradicate poverty in Africa”.
Zainaba’s sunken eyes suddenly glimmered with hope. She finally understood what the Blonde girl was saying. Zainaba urgently whispered back to Akhilu.
“She wants to know if you have brought food” Asked Akhilu.
“Food .. us ? No, you see, this was a day job, so we have no food.. well .. Hey ! does anyone have any candy or stuff in there ?” The Blonde girl shouted into the machine.
“And water ?” Asked Akhilu, pushed along by Zainaba.
” Water ? Sure. Hey Guys, can we spare a bottle here ?”
“But there are four hundred of us” said Akhilu. This time not provoked by Zainaba. For Zainaba had left his side and was walking up to the Blonde Goddess.
Zainaba stared directly in to Blonde girl’s eyes. She suddenly felt life flooding back into her. With all the effort she could muster….
Zainaba spat in the Blonde girl’s face.
As Zainaba turned a walked away, she knew this was mistake. All the saliva she could muster was needed to wet the parched lips of her dying child.
But in three days she would be dead anyway. While the world sang and danced.
© Shekhar Kapur

38 thoughts on “Live 8

  1. Hei Shekhar,
    Got the message but please listen to Pink Floyd’s
    Dark Side of the Moon. 32 yrs ago they sang about everything that is happening in the world today. They made money but surely it was never the intent. They deserve to sing at live 8. Its the assasin in the 3 piece suit leading his mutating companies stomping on our fast dissapearing integrity that needs to be checked. Globalize my friend, the rich got all the food on the table the poor – rot in hell

  2. True.. very true.
    Wonder if knowing all this brings any change?
    When I was younger my wish to see my utopian world and bring changes made me think that a well written book, a song or a movie full of the best ideas, projecting this utopia will change people.
    Au contraire, with time I learnt 1 thing all this is not an expression of the change we want in others, but the change we’ve underwent within. Our perspective…
    Mr. Kapur, I’ve some questions. Which one did u write 1st live 8 or the trip?
    Re-reading both the stories made me cry…
    They are such contrast… yet 1 similarity… there will never be perfection. Some will be happy, some will be sad. Will we ever become humans or always remain American, Chinese, Indian…?

  3. Finally arrived at the site where I felt good reading about it. The content of the website is very strong and it builds some kind of a mid-level energy to self growth. Thank you Shekhar

  4. Hi Shekar,
    Your short stories are mind numbing. You should try to turn these stories into atleast SMALL SCREEN series.
    I think its SIN, you have such immense talent and NOT USING it eventhough you could.
    Shekhar may be you are eyeing on BIG PROJECTS or international banners, who have enough fund to UNDERSTAND you ideas.
    But in this life, everything comes in small packets, in verge of waiting for ONE BIG opputunity you are missing many small achievements that you could have made (not just in monetory or name/fame). Its even for yourself.
    Plus you might be sending SIGNALS to ALL THOSE SINGERS to FOCUS what happened to all the MONEY THEY HAD GATHERED thorough their concerts.
    When a singer take an oth to eradicate famine, then his job doesn’t end on the stage. But he should make it sure wether or not their earnings turned into bread and water for the most needed.
    But still your story was mind numbing and am very much touched with your skills.

  5. Dear Mr Kapur
    I understand that you are playing a major part in the writing of “Long Walk to Freedom.” May I please make you aware that Rubicon Day has written a powerful and haunting song called “Madeba” about the life of Nelson Mandela.
    An excerpt from the song can be heard at
    Please have a listen to the song and consider it within the context of “Long Walk to Freedom.”
    Thank you for your time and great luck with the movie.
    Steve Taylor
    Manager – Rubicon Day

  6. Pierced right into the heart. I read ‘Do Kalaakar’ written by Manu Bhandari in our syllabus book of Class ten(CBSE),. The story flashed in my mind again. Professionalism in today’s context mean use of everything and anything that could be for professional success and gain. well great to see people like you with success and wealth is listening the voice of so unpriviledged. Trying to understand and reflect the pain so plain. My heartfelt Regard Shekhar…….

  7. Such is reality. Harsh. In your face. As much in our own land too. Can we not be the blondie and do our bit? Can we ?

  8. Shekhar,I’m speechless.It read like a movie.
    And is it true you are involved in adapting ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ as Steve says? There a few biographies which capture human struggle,failings and triumphs as well as this does. Mandela’s journey along with Gandhi’s are to me the two lone and tall stories of true human spirit in the last century. Their lives are events which changed the way people their lives irrevocably.To be involved in adapting their stories is such a honour and responsibility.
    If this is true,my best wishes for your personal journey while working on this.

  9. Shekhar,I’m speechless.It read like a movie.
    And is it true you are involved in adapting ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ as Steve says? There a few biographies which capture human struggle,failings and triumphs as well as this does. Mandela’s journey along with Gandhi’s are to me the two lone and tall stories of true human spirit in the last century. Their lives are events which changed the way people their lives irrevocably.To be involved in adapting their stories is such an honour and responsibility.
    If this is true,my best wishes for your personal journey while working on this.

  10. A story within a story within a story…a story without a story without a story…
    A story as good to us here as Blonde’s must have been to her people.
    But none took water to aklilu’s people.
    A few days later Zainaba and her child died of thirst.

  11. It was her last resort. She knew she deserved to be spitted upon. She had tried the best through every ounce of her painful conscience but she knew it was no only wrong, it was inhumane. Her boss couldn’t care less. She was fired immediately afterwards from her news reporter position.
    A year of joblessness, an abusive husband and two hungry toddlers found her running away from home to take refuge in a women’s shelter. To start life all over again. There was hope, the eyes of her young ones, the embrace of the women at the shelter, made her believe the sun does rise after a long dark night.

  12. Was just reminded of the film ‘The Long Walk Home’ with Whoopi Goldberg playing the black maid in the story of a bus boycott.

  13. Dear shekhar,
    The message is well communicated. I agree with your each and every point. You are brave to say ‘the king is naked’. thank you sir…
    With love…..Vaishak

  14. Heyyyyyyy Shekhar
    Thanik dheerei daurayei ghorei ko….aise tho dimag ki charbi pighalnei lagegi….
    DQ ka ghora raftar se daurtei hue, chalangei maartei hue….peecheli post ke upar se jump kartei hue ageh barti hai….
    peecheli post ke upar jump karti hui, for a spur of a moment a thought crosses…
    ‘Madonna ki BRA would have sold for more, than what was/is offered for Our Gandhi ka chashma’
    Madame Tussads…in London…i remember seeing his wax model at the end of the lane…finishing point, that too when i went to check my cam roll in the dark, (i prefered roll film cams more, until lately)
    AmitABH and aishwarya were more highlighted i think…gandhi jee ka model behind a pillar tha…my heart just sank when I saw him there…and I felt india shud ask them to completely remove him from there….he is not doing much service and sales for madame tussads museum…
    I may seem sardonic/jealous/im-practical whatever…but i think all these oscars for slum dog is more of hollywood trying to filter and shake hands with bollywood….they are falling somewhere….
    As for this present post, i would not like to leave a comment, just me barking mere words of wisdom or my inner turmoils is not going to prove nothing…I am a silent spectator, hence hold no authority to even express my anguish…I am equally rubbish…
    ***a response for RITU in the previous post of ‘Tv debates’

  15. ***Brahmastra***
    Angrez left behind a fantastic policy …
    ‘Divide and rule’
    So many years of independence yet we have not been able to emancipate ourselves above this
    This policy of theirs, works brilliantly in many spheres…even in the problems in the muslim world…shia and sunni etc etc…
    Believe me, when I say, unless we don’t give up this fight within ourselves to stop divide and rule (caste, colour, creed) between ourselves we will never rise…
    this will become a tumor..infact has become one….and the disease will spread like cancer…
    and politics is surviving on this disease….
    I am no politician, i am not interesetd in politics…but my common sense says it so…
    As for the ‘Italian waitress Sonia Gandhi’
    We never learnt to respect labour did we?
    How can you forget that she lost her man, for this country
    agreed she may not be suitable to lead our country, she is being used….but at the same time…insulting a woman in this manner, shows your bitterness..
    you are the one who speaks of Indian culture very much…
    Where is your basic respect for women? may she be anyone or anything?

  16. Claps…
    Congratulations Shekhar,
    Dear you just ended poverty in Africa there.
    And even made that eradication self-sustainable by donating the billions you made on this post.
    Wish we had more people like you on the planet.

  17. So that now everything is fine with Africa we can blissfully keep living in the moment, the ordinary life, with true courageous grit and write the next post…, I wish we’d earlier known to solve world’s problems at such speed moving every other day to the next one.

  18. Shekhar : i wanted to gift you a book, but since that is not possible (call it wishful thinking) i would suggest you read Rana Dasgupta’s Novel SOLO. You will like it. It will bring a smile to your face, innumerable times…and it will refresh your mind. You will love it… And if you get a chance, meet this guy. There is philosophy in his eyes.. You will love him.

  19. Just curious Shekhar
    where are you spending your millions?
    to help iradicate India’s poverty?
    Writing a great story dosent make you a hero either. You are no diferent from any of them

  20. Prerna and others who question Shekhar’s sincerity. What are you doing yourself for Africa’s poverty? Remember everytime we point one finger towards someone else three fingers point back to us.
    An average human being has been desentisitized to the images of suffering that one sees all around. We see it and flip channels. Atleast Shekhar has used his blog to bring awareness to it make us pause and feel the pain. Atleast he has used his creativity to re-sensitize us to the suffering of millions on this continent. He is trying to evoke our compassion and sense of responsibility to fellow human beings. Even if he inspires one person to actively do something for this cause he has done more than you and me.
    One does not have to spend millions to help a cause. One can contribute it myriad ways. Every one has their limitations. But even if every human being does a small bit they can make a big difference to this world.
    All in my humble opinion, with offense to none.
    Warm Regards

  21. Ritu, but so did the Blonde’s.
    Anyways, yet I also know that in the scheme of things both Blonde’s and Shekhar’s work have their place.
    More than the physical work (in which we give direct help)is the emotional work (in which we emotionally prepare many more people to help), more than the emotional work is the intellectual work (in which we convince till more people – almost an age – to help the poor), more than the intellectual work is the spiritual work (in which we make almost all people see for themselves that they should help the poor and almost forever.) No work ever goes waste. Some may be apparent now, some less apparent, some subtle, some subtlest, yet the subtlest will last the longest.
    Below is an interesting paragraph from my book which tells why intellectual and spiritual people have more influence on masses and for greater periods in terms of four basic forces-driven four basic interactions which also make them evolve from (mere physical to emotional to) intellectual to spiritual beings in the first place and thus enable them to have those properties in terms of the same forces or interactions.
    “If you would like to have an exercise for your mind for the present, try to solve the question: Why masters and sages have far greater influence and for far longer periods on the populations than the philosophers and thinkers? Try it seriously in the light of our discussion of interactions above -that masters and sages are the product of the weak interactions while the philosophers are that of the strong interactions. Hint: all the known particles in the world ‘couple’ to the weak force…which can affect transmutations in them…often propelling them to high and higher speeds…their carrier neutrinos having sort of a network throughout the world… (see why masters and sages influence far more people an for far longer periods, fundamentally it is just thanks to the carriers of the forces in play).
    If you wouldn’t laugh, I can give you a hint even in a very simplified language: The sages can influence even the ‘plants’ and ‘animals’ (if ‘minerals’ would be too much for you) among us, while the philosophers can influence only the human beings. And how many do you think are really human beings among us? (Explanation: sages can help even plants and animals because ALL particles get coupled to them, their vibrations, while those of the philosophers can couple only to hadrons, the particles which comprise our brain/minds)

  22. I found Shekhar’s piece here very evocative and surely makes you think.And Ritu I agree with the view that one does need to give back to the society in any which way possible.
    But Africa however is more complex than band-aid-fix.Decades of aid has not helped Africa. The west has crippled Africa with aid in return for lopsided selfish trade laws that never lets them trade on equitable terms. It is common sense that any sustainable growth needs to come from within the countries. After decades of aid if all you see is senseless dictators,genocide and increasing neglect, you need to stop and question- If the money has not gone to the needy where else has it gone? Its anyone’s guess how much of it fills the coffers of the despots? So who is the aid working for – The western conscience? Or the needy African?

  23. For those who desire further awakenings, try to catch “The Bottom Billion” by Paul Collier and “The White Man’s Burden” by William Easterly. Collier describes the “The Bottom Billion” as those populations in the world that are “falling behind and apart” and “stuck” in the pits of poverty. And yet, it is a problem that is denied by both “development biz” (aid agencies) and “development buzz” (generated by rock stars, celebrities etc.). Despite billions of dollars channeled to the poor/developing nations, Easterly surfaces the inherent failings of Western “aid” and how they have done more harm than good.
    Written by development economists and former World Bank specialists , both are provocative, insightful, disturbing and bound to change the way you respond to inequities in the world. I expect to be on a series of trips to Africa in the forthcoming months and look forward to some first-hand experiences….
    Caveat: neither books qualify as bedside readings!

  24. Harb,
    It is not right to generally term spiritual work ‘more’ than the work at physical level. Yes in terms of generating mass causal effects – yes it is.
    More than the physical work (in which we give *direct help*)is the emotional work (in which we emotionally prepare many *more people to help*), more than the emotional work is the intellectual work (in which we convince till more people – almost an age – to *help the poor*), more than the intellectual work is the spiritual work (in which we make almost all people see for themselves that they should *help the poor and almost forever.*)
    * You can see in what you have written that all help spiritual, intellectual or emotional finally gets to transfer to ‘physical level’ for its actual implementation to manifestation level. In that regard none is more or less.

  25. Ray, the intellectual work of the man who invented wheel will always remain more than those who actually use wheel in buses, trains to help people. The spiritual work of a spiritual person like, say, a sikh guru, who invented the system of free langar(food) and inspired people to arrange it at physical level will always remain more than those who actually implemented it at physcial level.
    Moreover, Karl Marx’s intellectual work of writing a communistic book convincing people to help the poor for just about a century, the said spiritual guru’s work has been going on for the last about 6-7 hundred years and of others Rishis, Munis like him even for thousands of years. Here you can see the difference between an intellectual and spiritual work.
    Same goes for emotional and physical work.

  26. Touching story and high time this drama of aid stopped and self-sustainability grew. A while back I was talking to a service Officer’s wife and she told of 80,000 people being killed just for nothing as two groups fought. Education is the only way to eradicate this senseless war.

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