It's a bloody shame

A news item this morning brought back memories I had vowed to forget. The item entitled: Rice with insects, clothes with holes took me back to so many instances of shameless beings who feel that anything is good enough for charity. We have had our share of such people and their interpretation of the word 'charity'. According to many 'rich' ladies everything is good enough for charity: broken toys, incomplete games, copy books filled up to the last page, torn and useless clothes. We were even 'gifted' an undergarment with a sanitary pas still attached to it!

The article I mentioned above is about the relief being sent to the flood victims of Uttarkhand. Why do people think that poor people or disaster afflicted people have no dignity or self respect. Why do people not put themselves in the place of those they are sending their supposed charity and think how they would feel. Is rice with insects something they would eat?

Donations we receive time and again do not seem to be something that has been done from the heart, clothes carefully chosen, washed and ironed before they are packed. It seems more like someone is emptying cupboards and store rooms and instead of selling it to the kabari wallahs, makes a phone call to a chosen NGO and asks them to come and pick the 'donation' up. We have been caught in this too many times. Now if the phone rings and one recognises the number of one of the 'generous' ladies, one does not pick the phone up. I am sure the said lady has a list of NGOs and just moves on to the next.

Over the years we have had many such experiences. One of the most upsetting one was when the PR person of a known actor badgered us to cart a child who needed heart surgery to some place to be interviewed! The flip side is a letter I received from a young child asking me whether it was wrong  to help those in need. Thank God for people like her otherwise one would simply give up on life itself rather than be part of this ugly world.

I have been often asked why we sponsor open heart surgeries for the poor who can according to them have more kids! I have given up getting outraged. It is too exhausting. How do you explain to someone that a mother whether poor or uber rich loves her child in the same manner, that parents whether poor or rich will do everything they can, and in the case of the poor sell everything they possess to give their child the best treatment possible. How do you explain to someone that the loss of a child is a painful and traumatic for any mother rich or poor. You just don't. You simply grit your teeth and walk away. I remember the night when the story of the first open heart surgery had been aired with my number and the strange and disturbing calls I received throughout the night. One caller asked me if I could guarantee that the operation would be successful and the child would live. I felt like telling him that I could not guarantee whether he would see the next day, but rephrased my thought my telling him I could not 'guarantee' whether I would be alive. I would like to tell that caller that the boy is alive and kicking and is in class XII. And before I end this tale, I need to tell you that the fact that the story came on air is also worth counting. Actually a journalist friend had written a piece about this boy in a leading newspaper. It was to be front page on the Sunday edition. A late night call informed me that the story had been killed and replaced by the story of a rich lady who had paid 50K to the person who had found her lost dog. This made me so mad that I did what I never do: asked for a favour!

There are many instances that reveal this ugly aspect of our society. One of the most hurtful one was when a lady flew into a rant when I tried to explain to her how our boarding school programme ran. She could not understand how one could spend so much money on just a poor slum kid! It took all my savoir faire not to slap her.

India would be transformed if we accepted the concept of the neighbourhood school. But that would mean accepting that our child share a bench with our driver's daughter.

Long way to go....