~ by Sr. Lavina D’Souza, Global Sisters Report; photo credit: Arturo Madrid-unsplas
The blank look on his face… a look of hopelessness…helplessness…perplexed…it wasn’t a silent face at all. The look on his wrinkled, aged face spoke aloud, as he stood passively before the vehicle that was about to leave the slum. He had remained absolutely silent all through our interactions with the people and now his look was disturbing. It yearned for something!
We had organized a food distribution for stranded migrants in one of the slums of Mumbai due to the lockdown. This slum area of migrants is not unlike other migrant living areas elsewhere in India. They live in subhuman, pathetic conditions, lacking decent housing facilities, potable water, sanitation facilities and other amenities, and are exposed to inclement weather and a hazardous atmosphere. They work for long hours, sometimes risking their health and lives, and yet, are paid less than they are entitled to. As they lack financial and health security and have little or no social support from a caste-and class-ridden society, they are unsure of what they can or cannot control in their lives. This leads to a certain passivity; resigned to their “fate”.
As I looked at the yearning eyes of the aged man, it seemed to me that he gazed not at the vehicle, but at the complacency of those who were more privileged than he. Are we so mired in our complacency that we have become blind to their reality?
The recent low point of this societal complacency has been the passivity of a few privileged people in India as they watch the unending trail of desperate migrants trying to reach home to be with their loved ones. The migrants take any means – even treacherous journeys on foot, sometimes walking hundreds of miles. In such foot journeys, a few of them lost their lives before reaching home, all due to exhaustion, because they wanted to escape dying of hunger as they tried to save themselves from the coronavirus. These are India’s nameless, faceless migrants who were denied time and transport to return home due to the sudden lockdown which was, ironically to save lives.
But who cares for the lives of the poor? To read the complete article click here