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Have you ever been struck? In an enclosure wid dim lights and a fan and probably a stranger!

It was just yesterday I got into the lift switched the fan on and ordered the lift man, “fifth floor please” saying so I got into my phone again looking up for some new meassages and then something happened, a jerk and it stopped! Enquisitive I asked, “kya hua bhaiyya?” it was then that I really looked at his face! It has been more than a year now that I’ve gotten into the same lift everytime I went there, but never had the chance to see what I saw.

He was a boy of probably 16, short hair, lips dark wid ‘beedi’, torn shorts, a red strange shirt and broken chappals. “bijli chali gayi lagta hai, rukna padega.” he said and played probably his favourite but a strange song in a nokia phone that I couldn’t recognize.

His face took me down the memory lane, when I was 16 I had ordered my mom to fix my room’s AC because I couldn’t concentrate on studies and  had my exams just round the corner. When I was 16 I had told papa I wanted to go abroad after  am done with my board exams because it was really tacky in here! When I was 16 I wanted a scooty because the chauffer drove really Slow and I got late for my classes, I actually wanted to bunk and reach for the movies then! When I was 16 my mother had found the porn film dvds in my room and I had blamed it on the cook’s 15 year old son who came over at times to deliver flowers. He was never allowed to come over again! When I was 16 I stole a ₹1000 note from my father’s wallet because I wanted to gift my boyfriend an ashtray, my mother had thrown the maid out and we employed another one. When I was 16 I gave my board exams and my family fed the poor at the time of results!

He is 16 now and has been  serving me as a lift man from the past 1 year. He is 16 now and he has repaired my cabin’s AC once. He is 16 now and has never had the chance to go out of Lucknow. He is 16 now and is wearing the same slippers and has been walking from years, I can tell because of the broken chappals. He is 16 now and he sells porn dvds to kids from our class, I know because I had bought one from a similar guy. He is 16 now and has been twice insulted by my colleagues for stealing random stuff from their drawers. He is 16 now and he never went to school.

Suddenly his presence in the lift started upsetting me. I felt some negative vibes crossing my head. The song he played in his cell phone pierced my ears. Suddenly I felt a nervous breakdown, I felt claustrophobic! I wanted to slap him hard on his face, I wanted to never see him again, I wanted to get down the lift then and there but it was closed! I was struck! He kept listening to his song, I shouted but he won’t listen, I closed my eyes but he won’t vanish! He sat there looking all happy with his ‘so-called-low-class-life’. And I stood there carrying the guilt of being ‘the-elite-people-who-never-gave-a-damn’

Yes we discriminate! Yes we look down upon them! Yes we hate them because we think they stink! But every time there’s a good news we feed them, we think we’ve done some great social work and now not a single child at their home would sleep hungry! Yes we are idiots! Its not their clothes but our thinking that stinks! By feeding the poor we may get rid of our soul’s poverty but not their’s. Its not easy….

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Mohona Dasgupta

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