Rains in Mumbai – perspective

The roofs drip waste,
peeling plasters flutter in the wind,
as the asbestos sheets threaten to come crashing.
The stench that defines this place now washed away,
the by-lanes are mini streams and hold a threatening sway.
One room houses, jam & jostle beside the drain,
the temporary tarpaulins covering the roofs, offer little resistance to the rain;
the bricks to stop them too feeble to fight,
just like the people inside.

We fight our battles everyday for a bit of food and shelter,
that offer no comfort for the ill and sick – they might as well have been on the street.
The choking gutters, spreading out our waste like valuables for all to see,
the dampness dampens our spirits, pervades our being,
this claustrophobic slum life in Mumbai is our misery.
Yet, you’re always welcome,
Oh beautiful rain! Your pattering drops momentarily dull our pain,
the accompanying wind tugs at our clothes and our troubles,
isn’t that why we find him so lovable?
As the thunder clouds gather, we feel our spirits lift,
our faces upturned with expectation and smiles,
we realize although a burden, life is still a gift.
And in those precious few moments,
we know we are equal in the eyes of nature – she treats us all the same.
Rain – the life giver!


The privileged
From the cosy confines of my verandah, I watch the rain as my maid serves me tea,
I snuggle deeper into my wicker chair, knowing I can pull out the awning if it threatens to wet me.
The spray off my whitewashed railing wets my face, the gentle breeze grazes my cheek,
I breathe in the scent of the earth, this moment precious, gives me the peace I seek.
The sea in the distance dances her joy, her waves leaping up to touch the drops,
I sense the play and the glee of the firth, one can hear the roar and the joyful mirth.
The sky is a deep hue, the trees verdant green, the earth deep brown, the hitherto dusty leaves sport now a sparkling sheen;
The birds watch from their in the nests, the dance of the plants in the pots,
all the living – old and young, yes we’re all besot.
And for a while all life pauses, to pay homage to this wonder called rain.

(The rain from the perspective of the rich and the poor in Mumbai)

Meanwhile …..

As I nurse my fractured foot and spent a week at home, here’s my take on some things that happened in the days that slipped by –

  • India made it to the semis of the ICC World Cup after beating Bangladesh. There was much rejoicing but I felt a little put out. While Bangladesh get my respect for giving India a tough fight, it would have meant something else beating the English to make it to the top 4 instead.  Mehbooba Mufti said it was the saffron t-shirts that brought about India’s defeat, and I can only laugh at the length some people can go to politicize events and polarise people.
  • Wimbledon 2019 is here finally! Yipppeee!!! My fracture doesn’t seem so horrendous to bear now.
  • I tip my hat to the citizens of Hong-Kong. Civic activism bringing authoritarian law makers to their knees needs to be applauded. Salute their courage in challenging the bill of extradition to the Chinese mainland.

Just being mute bystanders or at best drawing room activists in India, we can only lament the death of hundreds of poor children in Bihar, blamed on lychees; the suicide of Pallavi Tadvi due to caste reasons; the oxygen deficiency in the Gorakhpur hospital case (though old – it comes to mind on events that could have been managed & avoided). We see a state govt wanting to grant bail to an accused of rape,  and we don’t bat an eyelid. This is what we’ve come to expect from our shameless govt. The list is endless. There is minimal civic activism in India and it’s not surprising because we cannot come together and demand action. We are all divided by religion, caste and politics.

  • The beautiful Mumbai rains poured down in earnest over the last weekend (end June) continuing into Monday. Sadly, and not surprisingly, Mumbai was flooded again, with people being killed due to water-logging, wall collapse, tree falls etc. Climate experts now say Mumbai monsoons will soon start in July. I’ve heard Odisha will again face heavy rainfall & a cyclone again due to a low pressure build up. Climate change is a reality but who cares, not us.
  • Catchment areas got some rainfall and hopefully we’ll tide over this year’s water crisis. But what about the years to come?  Who really cares that our children may not have clean drinking water in future, that they might point to a tiger and call in an extinct animal, that the mountains of waste we turn our noses upon, will continue to remain here for thousands of years after us? Live in the present, that seems to be our motto!!
  • Anyway, onto some happy things in life – We celebrated by son’s 12th birthday over the weekend with family and friends. Went through some old photographs and videos to the delight of all around. Life is also about creating memories and looking back once in a while
  • And finally, I’m happy with my progress on watercolors.

Hope you had a great week before and a more wonderful one ahead!

If you think I’ve missed out some events, please free to add not just the event/incident but your take on it as well.

 

Our identity – what are we defined by

Today I read an article published in the New York Times, of a working mother, the title of which was ‘I picked my job over my kids’. I’d say it was a smart choice of title. Everybody has an opinion on this subject and it was bound to get her many views. Here in the article she narrates how on a number of occasions – important ones undoubtedly she chose to prioritize her work and not attend to the occasion or the children. Her justification was –

  • I’m a single parent, divorced and need to provide for self and family
  • My work as a lawyer (fighting for cases) against injustice is extremely important and my clients need me more at certain points in time.

As I read the article, somewhere I felt traces of pride on her accomplishments creeping in and the fact that she was doing a mighty important job. I have nothing against women feeling proud about their accomplishments, in fact it’s known to promote feminism and a sense of equality which is so important now to tip the balance in our favour.

What I have an issue with is the following –

  • the sense of superiority about the job she did, and her identity with it so complete
  • her sense of guilt and her explanations of conditions under which she forewent family time

So, firstly our identity is not our job or our visiting card. Some others introduce themselves as I’m a ‘housewife’ or a ‘homemaker’. But I do understand this is a problem with most of us. I’m so and so working with HDFC Bank, is how I used to introduce myself a few years ago. Now it is I’m Leena and that’s all. I’m a person as you see me. If you want more information about the work I do, the interests I pursue or my views, do ask and I’ll be happy to share it. 

Secondly, when we start thinking we are irreplaceable, it is a problem. No one in this world is. You’re out of your job and there’ll be someone the very next day/ moment ready for it. So, if she couldn’t be there for some important client meetings as the lawyer, I’m sure someone from her team (armed with adequate information) could have represented her as well. 

Thirdly, the job of saving an innocent black man from a life sentence or the other clients who she represents, as a lawyer sounded like just another one to me. Isn’t the job of a doctor mom as important, a teacher mom who readies the next generation, a mom spending time working as a clerk in an NGO, or a bank (to earn her independence), or a stay at home mom who as a parent has decided to raise confident well equipped children? All these jobs are as important. It’s great to feel a sense of purpose in the job you do, but all jobs have purpose for different individuals.

Finally, even if you’re pursuing your hobby of writing or spending some much needed ‘me’ time with friends or on a job that you describe as ‘purposeful’, and hence foregoing some time with the children – I think it’s absolutely fine. We all need time for the things we deem as important to us – not just a job. There’s no reason for guilt – ultimately, we can raise confident kids only if we are happy & confident ourselves.

Having said that, Women for (reasons of years of social conditioning) feel solely responsible for the well being of their children, that is what definitely needs to change.

The article in question is attached here. Click on the link for a read – NYT article

I have also written this as a response to LindaGHill’s Friday prompt for #SoCS

Would love to hear your take on it