02 November 2008

Retrospective Series 12: Children of a Lesser God (Apologies to Randa Haines)

Everyone experiences certain incidents in their lives, that change them permanently one way or the other. One incident that I remember changed me and affects me to this day.
I was probably 9 when this incident occurred, but I may be off by a year or so. The sight of the boy is clear as day in my memory, despite all this time having passed. He was probably a couple of years older than me, tall, lean as a stick, bones sticking out; especially evident because he was completely naked. He was shivering from head to toe. I don't know how he came to our door that afternoon. My mom first saw him through the window and she ran to the door to find out what was happening. The boy managed to extend his hand and indicate that he was hungry. I saw tears well up in my mom's eyes as she dashed to the kitchen to get some food for the boy. I just stood there at the door, trying to understand what was happening. I had never encountered an incident like this in my protected life. What was going on here ? Why was the boy without clothes, why was he shivering ?

My mom returned with some food in a disposable plate and gave it to the kid. He sat on our front porch and gobbled up the food so quickly that I still shudder when I think about how hungry he must have been. While he was eating my mom went back into the house and got him some of my used clothes. The rest of my memory is quite faded and I don't know what happened next. But one thing is sure, that day changed a certain part of me. The fact that I remember that incident to this day tells me that I was pretty much shaken up after coming face to face with some stark realities of life for so many kids; poverty, hunger, abandonment. I was blessed enough to be shielded from those realities all that while and when I was forced into such a situation, I could not fathom how something like that could exist.

Did I ask my mom after the boy had left ? What did I ask her ? Did she explain to me... that I think she did if I remember correctly. Did I understand ? I am pretty sure I did, though I am not sure if it lasted for more than a couple of days because a kid is easily overpowered with newer memories being formed, especially joyful ones.

I don't know what triggered my mind to think about this incident, but I tear up every time I think about it. Fast forward to the 21st century and what has changed ? Living in a developed nation, I don't ever see anything like that at least in front of my eyes. But inner cities in America, rural areas in India and China, and almost every city in Africa is probably witness to such incidents daily. A kid somewhere is woken up from a slumber that he was in. Faced with seeing a brethren of his stark naked, hungry and clutching to dear life. How can we proudly call ourselves human beings ? All the religions of the world and the holy men who profess to be messengers of their respective Gods, should be ashamed that we are still living in a world where we cannot care for our own children. All the leaders of the world should hang their head in shame, because we cannot feed our own children. And all the people of the world who have a meal at their table, should hang their head in shame because charity is unknown to them. Shame on us people. We can be better than this.

I have some links that I care about, read and see if it moves your heart.
One.org
Freedom from Hunger
Bread

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