home sweet home

Every time Radha breaks one of her fragile bones, my heart misses a beat and my blood runs cold. Radha had a fall last week and once again broke her leg. It must have been the evil eye as she was doing so well and on the day the mishap happened had won the prize of best dancer of the class. Today she lies in her dank and dark home and I find myself questioning the heavens.

Osteosis Imperfecta or glass bone disease is hell for anyone but more so for someone born on the wrong side of the fence. In a city like Delhi which has forgotten that the poor also need a roof on their heads, families like Radha's live in unbelievable conditions. Even if you earn 10 times more than the stipulated 20 Rs a day that qualify you as poor in the books of the State, you can at best afford a jhuggi in one of the umpteen slums that have mushroomed in Delhi. These dwellings are often sunk in, airless and unfit for any living being and come at the whopping price of at least 1000 rs a month. Often the tiny space of barely a couple of square meters is shared by 6 or more people. That is the abject reality of habitat for the poor in our swanky capital city. It is bad enough, but when you suffer from glass bone disease it spells disaster. I am not even mentioning the total lack of facilities in such homes. Our new special educator who comes from a small town was shocked to see Radha's home. I wonder what he would have said had he seen the one she lived in before!

Yesterday someone forwarded my an email about the home the richest Indian, where each occupant has seven thousand square meters to him or herself. I must admit that seeing the pictures and reading the figures was galling particularly at a time when my mind was teeming with pictures of Radha with her leg in plaster sitting in the flooded hole which she shared with so many. The pictures once again brought to the fore the stark reality of the two Indias that lived side by side but never met. I wondered whether those who had a surplus of space even knew about the plight of the likes of Radha. Imagine one family of five having thirty seven thousand square meters to themselves and the other barely five! Something is wrong and needs to be addressed but when will that day dawn?

Once again the plight of Radha brought to the fore the urgent need for many Planet Whys. Sadly I cannot even get one off the ground.