A middle aged woman pushing her vegetable cart in the chilly evening rain set me thinking about the life of an ordinary citizen in India's capital city.
The heap of vegetables still lying unsold on her cart was proof that it had not been a good day. I wondered why she and not a man was pushing the cart. A widow maybe, or a woman abandoned for another. Who knows? She must got up long before the sun rose and gone to the wholesale market in spite of the torrential rain. Then she must have carefully arranged all her different vegetables on her cart ready to walk her beat calling out people to buy her goods.
Her mind may have gone back to times gone by where no gates existed in residential colonies and no permission and ID were needed, a time where smart shops did not sell vegetables in neat packets glowing under an artificial green light, a time where the local pheri wallah was the obvious option was the only viable option for many a housewife. But those days were gone... yet she carried on.
Our city is filled with such people who set out every morning to sell a plethora of goods and depend on the day's income to feed their waiting family. We have many such people in our area, some even parents of pwhy children. I have seen many mothers sitting at the doorstep and waiting for the bread earner to come back so that she can set about cooking the evening meal, mouthing a silent prayer that he has not stopped by the watering hole.
These are brave ordinary Indians who left their homes in the hope of finding a better life in the city, and in the hope of carving out a better life for their children. They are your vegetable and fruit vendors, your corner cobbler, your scooter repair man, your street food vendor.. They are the likes of Nanhe's mom whose family grows hungry when she sits by the side of her child in the hospital.
They are ordinary Indians who have created an invisible support system that we have gotten used to and depend on without quite knowing it. Just like us they have families to feed, children to educate, lives to run. Still embedded in the Indianness they keep many of our traditions and rites alive, those we have forgotten and forsaken.
Yet they disturb and are often as they are considered ungainly and not in sync with modern India. They are held responsible for polluting the city as we forgot about them in our planning and they just had to place themselves somehow and anyhow. And yet they were never pushed away as politicians looked at them as votes and promptly gave them voters ID cards thus making them legit.
While law makes and executors are trying to fix things in time for the nest election, these ordinary Indians are busy surviving one day at a time, not aware of the Damocles's sword that hangs on their heads.