If the rumor mill is right the slum where it all began may soon be raised to the ground. Yes I am talking about the street where I first met Manu, where we began our spoken English classes, where we started our tiny special section by the roadside in a word where project why saw the light of day. It is the street that even today houses our library, our computer centre and our senior secondary classes. For those of you who have never been to project why, the slum I mention, better known as Bhagat Singh Camp, or Giri Nagar slums, is a cluster of about 4o houses tucked away along the wall of the erstwhile Bhagat Singh College now the AND College. It has been in existence for more than three decades and is home to more than 200 souls.
Like in all supposedly illegal slums in Delhi, the residents of this JJ Colony have a valid postal address, ration cards, voters cards and all that supposedly makes one a legal citizen of the city. It even has a community centre build by the slum wing of the town municipality! And though the slum, like all slums in this city, is on government land, the tiny strip of land that houses it, is too puny to accommodate much else. Yet the rumor mill is buzzing and it seems that the college next door is in for some major makeover and is likely to acquire this small strip and turn it into a car park.
The Damocles sword that hangs on millions of residents of this city is about to fall on what we too have called home for a decade now. For the past few years I have been aware of the precarious nature of slums in our city and have often blogged about it. This is also why we felt the need of having our own centre and hence conceived planet why! Yet like all human beings we held on to the hope that things may not really happen. How puerile! The reality is that the Giri Ngar slum could soon be raised to the ground rendering many homeless, people we have lived with for many years, children we have seen being born and grow, homes we have witnessed being tended to with love and care. True the law has to prevail but what we will soon be witnessing is nothing less than a human tragedy, one that we are an intrinsic part of. I cannot even begin to think where all the people will go. Most of them work in the area and may lose their jobs. Rents are sky high. Options are few.
I cannot imagine the day when my morning will not start with a visit to this very street and my morning cup of tea with Rani's mom in the little temple that is her home. It is where for me this journey actually began and the place where I need to go every morning to remain rooted to the true spirit of project why. Of all the trials and tribulations we have faced, this is undoubtedly the one that may cost us our very soul.