numbing numbers

It never rains, it pours goes the saying, and nothing could be truer for Radha's little family. The day after the TV crew came and went, the authorities came and took away the family's food cart and every single utensil they possessed. They did not even leave a plate, a spoon or a glass. The little family lost they sole mean of livelihood and also the basic utensils needed to cook their own meal.

True it was to happen as all street food is now illegal in Delhi but somehow one did not expect it all to happen so soon. It seems the few carts in the area were linked to the wrong political party and hence the haste in getting rid of them.

Now begins the numbers game. If Radha's mom wants to retrieve her belongings she needs to come up with a whopping 2500 Rs plus Rs 100 per fay in demurrage. A herculean task for a family that barely earned 1500 rs a month. But then without their belongings the family cannot even cook a meal for themselves and the cart was bought for over 5000 Rs and could fetch them some money if sold as they know they will never be able to revive the business. The predatr family who had come out of the wood work after Radha's father's demise have simply packed their bags and left. The only one left is Radha's younger aunt who toils in factory from 9am to 9 pm for a paltry 2500 Rs, way below the minimum wage. And in her case, like in the case of thousands of others, no worker's union comes to the rescue. They are quietened by hefty amounts paid by the factory owners who find numerous ways to circumvent laws.

Radha's mom is ridden with debts, the ones she occurred after the demise of her husband as she was made to do complex and expensive rituals. Our offer to come and stay at the women centre went unheeded as perhaps it was not an option for the extended family. Or perhaps was it that very extended family that saw Radha's mom as a potential money spinner. We will never know what truly happened.

Today Radha's mom has very few options. She cannot work in a factory like her younger sister as her soon is too small to be left alone and then her other children do come back from school and need to be tended to. We now have to rack our brains to find a workable option. We will probably ask her to come and work at the women centre as it is not located too far from her house and she can bring her little boy along. We need someone to clean the place and cook the staff lunch. And then she can after her work, join the sewing class which could be an added skill that would help her earn some extra money. She must earn enough to look after her family.

That is where we stand today. As I wrote in an earlier post, the story on TV did not translate into any form of support. We will have to find a way to help the family get back their belongings as some can be sold and others are much needed for the family to survive. The numbing numbers game will have be unravelled and won!