This morning I went to Mehajabi's home. I had thought that seven years had inured be to most things but I was in for a surprise.
I must confess that I have been haunted by Mehajabi's mom's face since the time I laid eyes on her and I decided to accompany Rani on as she set out for her customary visit to the home of any child that needs heart surgery. This is to ensure that the child will have proper care after the delicate surgery.
Mehajabi lives in a remote enclave behind the Jamia Milia University. We left our three wheeler on the main road that runs along the river and set out on foot through a maze of lanes guided by her gentle father. Though the lanes seemed clean, we were soon hit by swarms of flies. After a long walk we reached a tiny lane where a set of rooms stood in a row, Mehajabi's
was the last one in the row. It was a tiny room where we were greeted by Mehajabi's and her mother. Her brother played on the floor. A bed was the only piece of furniture. Clothes hung on a string attached to the wall and all the other belongings lay around.
We soon discovered that eleven persons lived in that tiny room. Mejabi's grandparents, parents, two aunts and her 4 siblings. As we sat on the bed Rani nudged my elbow pointing at the door. It took me a few seconds to realise what she was showing me. The door opened on the wall that was a dirty orange colour that was the result of years of spitting pan (betel leaf). It was what this young woman had to stare at day after day as she went about doing her daily chores!
It was her room with a view.
Thankfully we were distracted by a chirping sound and looked down to see 8 to 10 chicks, some brightly coloured in pinks and greens. Mehajabi's mom told us that she had got them for the children to play with as she could not afford toys. What hit me was that there was no anger, no resentment no bitterness; it was their life and they lived it in the best way they could. The young couple had shifted to the parents home when the little girl's illness was detected as from that moment on all that mattered was her well being. The whole family had come together to ward off the crisis.
I was overwhelmed with a multitude of thoughts that sought answers I did not have. I felt anger, sadness and total helplessness and yet I also felt humbled by the courage and dignity I saw. After a few minutes we got up to leave but were asked to stay on. I had forgotten that this was India, a land where guests are always welcome and honoured. After a few minutes Mehajabi's father came back with a bottle of Pepsi and two plastic cups. As I held on to my cup, I realised that what I had been offered was steeped in emotions I cannot describe, and was far more than a simple fizzy drink. I drank my cup to the last drop as that was the only befitting thing to do.
By that time little Mehajabi had adopted me and was busy playing with my face. She had walked into my heart just as her mother had. We left in silence humbled and moved by that experience. As we reached the three wheeler were Hare Ram our driver waited, I saw some whispering between the father and son-in-law. The young man was sent to the corner juice man and a glass of juice was brought for Hare Ram, who was also a guest.
After all this was India, the real one that many have forgotten.
click here to see mehajabi's room with a view
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