Yesterday I was interviewed for a web journal. After the set of regular questions about work and self, the journo asked me what I felt the State should do to address the habitat for the poor issue. Build decent homes in every part of the city as slum dwellers were the backbone of the city was my impassioned plea. Habitat for the poor I has always been an issue close to my heart as over the past decade I have been privy to the plight of slum dwellers in our heartless city. Are we not the city that needs a Supreme Court order to instruct it not to demolish any homeless shelter in the dead of winter! Are we not also the city that allows people to live for THIRTY years in ramshackle tenements along a road side, issuing them all kinds of civic recognition to fatten vote banks, and then razed their dwellings one fine morning to pander to some harebrained whim? Yes we are and we should hang our heads in shame, but do we? We all know the answer to that uncomfortable question.
Winter has set in it is terribly cold. Heaters and warm clothes have come out of the closets of the rich but do we ever spare a thought of what happens to the poor?
Last week Radha's mom came to see us. Radha is the little girl with brittle bone disease, the one who has borne the pain of over 50 fractures in her tiny life, the one whose home has been destroyed more than once and who has spent many nights on a footpath, Radha who should be handled with extreme care but who lives in cramped and damp holes that would not be considered fit for an animal in any self respecting society. Radha's mom had a simple request: could we keep Radha in our foster care for the duration of winter as the cold was unbearable in their tiny hovel where she slept on the damp floor. I can well imagine that. Radha's present home is a sunken hole and the child who is a just a bag of bones must have suffered excruciating pain lying on the damp and cold floor. Needless to say we agreed. She had already spent some time with us when she last broke a leg and it was a joy to have her. We would have kept her longer but she wanted to return to her home and family and we did not stop her. You see Radha is much the elder sister to her younger siblings and somehow she felt she had to be with them.
Radha moved in yesterday and she will spend the rest of winter warm and cared for. But what about the innumerable children in this soulless city who will have to bear the brunt of the cold because we have forgotten to care for our very own.