The following post was penned by Anand as a part of his Instagram call for action. Anand's reflections are based on his experience on the ground during the relief operation in 2021 during the second wave of Covid-19 in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
I don’t normally do this but awakened by the helpless state of our neighborhoods, streets, cities and by large our country, I feel the dire need to do so and for a lot of people I know, this might be relatable if not necessarily inspirational. Hopefully it’ll be worthy of taking a bit of your headspace for matters that could do well with merely your thoughts to begin with.
I’ve been actively working on-ground for Khaana Chahiye Foundation for about more than a month now. And we cook, package, monitor and distribute ready-made food packages, along with purchasing, storing and handing out uncooked ration kits across the slums of Mumbai.
The people dwelling in these slums eke out a living by working tirelessly throughout the day, doing back-breaking odd jobs to earn a mere 40-50 bucks at the end. Every day might be a totally new job but the result is always the same.
They’re migrant workers, daily wage earners and labourers, street cleaners, auto and cab drivers and some of them used to visit our houses, sweeping and brooming our floors, washing our utensils and sometimes even cook for us!
The sheer number of aging mothers, widows and abandoned children I’ve come across in the last month has been bafflingly hurtful and in most case, these people don’t even have a job! Not even a back-breaking one. That is the ground reality at this moment and this truth shamefully prevails. That said, Khaana Chahiye has come to the aid of such people countless times.
For me personally, the decision to step out and find, contact and volunteer for such NGOs came from an emotional place and while it started as a simple thought of, “they’ve driven me to the station, driven me to-and-fro work, made my house a better place to live and worked since generations in so many households I know”, the on-ground situation that I’ve been met with on several occasions has made the experience that much more real, damning, hard and humbling.
Covid has affected their lives beyond the realms of our imagination and while I still try yet struggle through each day to empathize if not fully understand the emotional, mental and psychological impact of what must go through them, which is something they themselves might not be able to fathom due to far reaching consequences of their very state, the one thing I indeed have had an awakening for which is the gruesome problem they’ve always been dealing with, beyond even Covid-19 and that is hunger and poverty. Which still are the reality of the lives of many even now when things are in the unlock.
There are some stories, facts and situations which are so real and harsh that I feel reluctant to share them here. But I also won’t put a veil over the issues we all look at but don’t see. We all recognize but don’t act. We all realise but can’t relate. It indeed is what it is! But it all begins with and from a will. A will to do. A will to be.
I remember being a teenager and writing a poem which had a line that went like: “why’s there more fruit in a rich man’s shampoo than on a poor man’s plate?” and now, I at least see the tip of the iceberg. I now know there’s more to that. But anyway...
I’ve come across some real-life heroes who belong to these very communities themselves who are nothing short of being like messiahs to these people. Setting the example and laying the inspiration in circumstances you and I can only imagine.
Before I finish, and if you’ve stayed with me so far, I’d just like to say that I didn’t mean to question anybody’s choice or decision to stay home. Almost everybody I know has faced issues due to Covid-19 and the best way to counter that is to actually STAY WITHIN OUR HOMES! My parents are both doctors and rest assured, Khaana Chahiye makes sure high levels of safety and precautions are maintained throughout the entire length and breadth of our workflow.
If I’ve offended anyone then I’m deeply sorry. I didn’t mean to. We’ve gotten the lucky lives we have and we can’t unlive what we’ve already lived. But there is much more that we can indeed do.
Through all of social media’s trials and tribulations, I hope and I know for a fact that there’ll always be enough people who’d actually know it’s correct use and thus act towards making both the virtual and the real world, a better place to live in beyond just for ourselves.
All I meant to do today was to share and if you all want to come forward in any way, let me tell you that you can very well do so in more than one ways.
Thanks a lot for giving me your time and thoughts. Take care and stay safe!