a small price to pay

Nine years may seem sufficient to inure you against all human and humane aberrations. But in a land like ours it is not so, as each time you seem to think you have seen it all or allow yourself to believe that things may have changed in the wake of all the talk you hear around you, something happens to rudely jolt you back to reality.

This is just what happened yesterday as I sat watching TV. A line on the ticker of a new channel said: man locks up mentally ill son in loo for 14 years! It was no gag or joke, it was stark truth and happened in a small town in Orissa. And what is even more disturbing is that the family finds it a better option than sending their child to a hospital. I guess in spite of all better sense, one can understand that as the plight of institutions for the mentally challenged is known to all. When one sees the state of such homes in Indias' capital city, one shudders to think about what happens in smaller cities. What is even more disturbing are the words of local social activists: “The parents are very poor and helpless. There is no point in blaming them when there is absolutely no facility from the government for such people."

This state of total helplessness and surrender is to say the very least demeaning. Not for the victim but for each one of us who pretend to be educated, humane, endowed with a conscience and values, overtly religious. If any one of us can see a human being locked in a cage for 14 years and walk by, then we seriously need to look at ourselves.

When we fist saw Manu we could just have walked by, shut our eyes and heart and mumbled words akin to those above. But we chose not to and in spite of all odds and difficulties we did not give up. Today Manu dances with friends and tomorrow he will have a bed of his own!

And one day, in the not too far future Many will have his home and a place where he will be able to live and work with dignity as long as he lived. That is what planet why is all about and when viewed this way what seems an astronomical amount seems paltry.