“Children” and their Contrasting Childhoods

Currently with blogging taking a back seat in my life while work, home, M and family taking higher priorities – I’m having many things on my mind to write about and will do so whenever I possibly can and in the Midst the various topics and experiences that I want to write inclusive of the recent Thailand holiday visit – This topic gains precedence above all others on my mind’s list.

This is a very sensitive/hurt feeling when I see kids from under-privileged homes for NO mistake of theirs have a sad childhood. Every Child deserves a Happy life with nutritious food, A Smile, An Education and A Family. Of-course a strong nasty feeling grasps my heart when I hear of child abuse and exploitation. On the other side when I see a difference in childhood between kids belonging to families of different economic strata of the society – A node of pain presses my heart. The below are two situations when I felt this :

1. Situation 1 : During my last Bangalore trip – I was happily spending time at my parents home and generally all my shopping happens during this time. More so – because of the whole range of shopping places a throw away from my parents home and the freedom to shop and enjoy which I may lack at my in-laws. M had been pestering us for Shoes that generate light as a part of his X’mas gifts. Two BATA showrooms, Reliance footprints very close to my home and I decided that was the best time to go shoe shopping. Also, we were scheduled to visit the Bannerghatta National Park the next morning.

M , Dad and Me went to the showrooms and I was on a shopping spree,

This is the list of what I got :

1 Light Shoes for M : Rs 999 ( He wanted this for a long time and was very excited)

1 Light Sandal for M : Rs 999 ( I decided this is for school use too)

1 Keetos -Sandal for M : Rs: 350 (For Park and rough usage – Actually, I felt it was not necessary and but was greedy and picked them up too)

1 Cream colored Pair of pump shoes for me : Rs 750 (Which I use with most attires)

The Bill came up to a whopping 3K – Rs 3098 to be precise ( Not from memory – I just opened up the Calc application on this computer to calculate)

That night I was thinking and re-thinking about the money spent at the shoe store and was wondering if I was overdoing it. I felt a little guilty for over indulging, blame it on my humble middle class upbringing. I generally limit my buying in Singapore as things here are pretty expensive so I justified it for myself and dozed off to sleep.

The next morning was packed with excitement. Dad had booked the vehicle for our National Park Trip. Sis had come down with my darling niece and we were all dressed up, packed some of X’mas sweets and cakes. Drove off to Bannerghatta National Park. M was wearing his new Sandals while was in my new shoes – All Happy to be spending quality time with my family and M and N (My niece) .

When we reached there I saw that the National Park is located at about a 1Km interior to the main gate. The almost 1 Km walkway is dusty and stony and houses street vendors who sell everything from juices to caps to cheap fancy toys. While we were getting dropped off at the main gate a sight that will never be forgotten hit me – A long line of about 30 kids in the 6-12 yrs age range stood there at the gates wearing worn out uniforms, tattered bags or should I say those yellow cloth bags which wrapped their books, Looked shabby and dirty, But the had BIG SMILES on their faces – They were so excited to be on a school picnic and to be visiting the Zoo, it seemed. They seemed to be from a Govt School nearby. What HIT me on my face was the fact that the those little kids were BARE FOOTED ! The road to the Zoo was not smooth. I wondered how far they’d walked bare-foot to reach there and how much more they’d walk that day inside the zoo –  feet unprotected . How many stones and thorns pricked their tiny feet the entire day. The devil of my guilt for overindulging at a Shoe store the previous night came back to haunt me with a heavier sword at that moment.

The 3K I spent at the shoe store was more than sufficient to buy 30 rubber slippers of Rs 100 each to protect those tiny feet. Instead, I’d over indulged and got my only child three sets of footwear. While those kids walked unprotected, ignoring the stones, thorns and heated pathways. What a contrast between my child M’s life and those kids lives ?

Situation 2 :  Enjoying the holiday at Thailand. Visited the Asiatique The River Front Night Market with the Ferris Wheel and Bright lights. It was our last night at Bangkok and we were making the most out of it. We landed at the Asiatique Bangkok on a free ferry ride from one of the MRT terminals. It was splendid. It was dinner time and J went around looking for eateries and while deciding where we wanted to go. M being in the ” See it and I want it mode” Saw a Balloon man selling Helium Balloons and was adamant that he got one. We convinced him saying that he cannot carry it back on the flight and he was just more and more adamant. He wanted and he just wanted it , no matter what!

The Balloon man was standing on the roadside on the other end of Asiatique. May be was’nt allowed to sell his wares inside. He stood there with his poor wife and little baby girl who was exactly M’s height. That Little girl could have been exactly M’s age and she was standing there selling Balloons with her parents. She was exactly at the same childhood juncture and maturity as M was and there she was on the other side of life, standing there and selling balloons instead of playing with one. Here was my child with me crying to play with one and there was this girl making her livelihood out of something she would play with. It was a striking contrast. It hurt my soul to see the little girl with unkempt hair and barefooted standing by and selling her dad’s wares.

All that I could at that point of time was to suggest J to hand over a couple of notes of Thai Bhatt her dad handed back as change after we bought a Spider Man Balloon that M chose. I left that place with a scar yet again.

Kids are Kids and their maturity levels are the same at their respective ages. Just that they are born lucky or not so lucky and face so many hardships that robs them of their precious childhood.

A simple , yet touching short film called Rupee 5 which I watched a few weeks ago on You tube was my discussion with J during my dinner that night.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m55U5uq61xk

A little village boy and his goal of getting a green balloon. The predicament he goes through to get his priced possession and how he looses it but does not loose hope and starts over again. I was comparing that to what M had got that day – All that he had to do at his age and while born to parents who had the money to buy what he wanted – was to just ASK for it or CRY for it and he GOT it !

Alas ! What a Contrast in the Varying Childhoods of “CHILDREN” born on the same planet.

As individuals enjoying life given to us on the same planet – what would we do to improve their situation and reduce the great divide between those kids who are born to fortunate parents and those who are not ?

If J and I do something to change the life of one child (other than ours) then I’d die a happy death. Thanks for reading…

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This entry was posted in I me myself :), Life in India - Anything goes !, M's Chronicles, S and J. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to “Children” and their Contrasting Childhoods

  1. I totally understand the guilt you must be feeling.. It happens with me as well when I go to India..
    I think that because we are not used to with seeing poor or unlucky kids here in foreign countries we feel more guilty when we shop around in India, come out and see poor kids & poor people..

    I even feel guilty when I see our kaamwalis(helpers) at home in India.. because we do not see them here.. I feel bad when my Bhabhi’s or Mummi give them our used clothes or even leftover food.. but this was not the same when I was living in India.. I thought it was normal but now I don’t feel good when I see kaamwalis working at our home.. 😦

    But that is life.. The other day my colleague asked me “Is there any city or any part of India where poor people live??” My reply was “Unfortunately, poor people are everywhere in India, you cannot just point out and say this is poor people’s city in India!!”

    • sjscribbles says:

      Yaa TPL – So True – Totally agree with you TPL. Somehow the life that we lead in foreign countries and the dollars that we spend here ..sometimes indulging in little luxuries – the same currency can back home in India be useful for so many under-privileged kids and families.

      There is this guilt when we see the poor back home and the divide is too great naa.. Such a contrasting difference 😦

  2. sahasra says:

    To tell you the truth, this was the most serious and true insight of anyone that i have read in a personal blog. Yes. It is true that every one of us feel the hurt, pain & guilt that you faced in those situations. Irrespective of the place we live, as humans we are bound to feel such pain when we come across the destitute. And if the human inside us insists, we can help them in some way or the other. That way, we will be helping ourselves by paving way to a better world. My only advice is that, you can try sponsoring a poor kid’s education or something related. That for sure would make a great difference to the kid’s life.

  3. sjscribbles says:

    Thanks for hopping by Sahasra and reading my Blog.

    Thanks for the wonderful and valuable comments.

    We used to support channels like CRY and Akshaya Patra – Sahasra !

    J and I are currently coming up with plans of more concrete plans of adopting atleast 5 kids (orphaned) into our homes and providing them with a family and education. I’m hoping and praying that the plan works and I shall have a satisfied life lived and shall die a happy death – Sahasra !

  4. Jas says:

    There is a great divide and you have brought it out very wonderfully here. I wish more and more people think like that and do something.

    • sjscribbles says:

      Thanks Jas, the great divide affects innocent helpless children and I may would’nt have had it effect me as much , if it was about fully grown adults who can take complete charge of their lives. Cheers, SJ

  5. Prachi says:

    This too struck a chord with me…!! A very sad but truth about our society….and worst is that the innocent children suffers the most…!!

    • sjscribbles says:

      So True – Prachi !
      Innocent kids are facing the divide, for no faults of theirs !!!
      It hurts the soul when we see the clear distinction ! We should just carry on with what best we could do to help these kids. Sure we cannot redeem every kid on the street, but at least bring on the smile on a few kids we can !

Gimme your 2 Cents !

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