Yesterday I dropped by my Lohar (gypsy)friends. My conditioned being expected to be greeted by long and sad faces as their homes had been raised to the ground just a few hours before that.
My heart did miss a beat as I alighted from my three wheeler and saw them all sitting in front of their erstwhile homes, their belongings strews all over. However as they saw me their faces lit up in the customary huge smile as many ladies came and hugged me
As we walked towards the space where our classroom was, I was amazed to see that in front of each 'home' the fire was lit, the tools laid out and men and women at work. Every faced smiled and someone ran to get the two new members of the clan: little Tania (3 months) and tiny Sagar (1month). The class was as full as ever and every child eager to show off. It seemed that barring the fact that roof and walls had gone, life was still on!
This has been the place where these 30 odd families have lived for over 25 years. I wonder what our reaction would be if someone broke the walls of our home and took our roof off! Gypsies are known for their resilience but what I saw today was more than that, it was a free spirit that refused to give up, a mind where fear had no place. They had perfected the art of zen survival.
As I walked back I was reminded of Tagore poem:
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action---
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
Here where a bunch of people who held their head high, we are the ones who let them down.
Note: there are 1000 odd gadiya lohar familes who have lived in Delhi since the fifties. they were promised relocation that they never got. They however were given voter's ID cards.