Saturday, January 13, 2007


Bright brown eyes staring at me from the window. Her shaggy brown locks unkempt and forms a dirty halo around her face. Nose shining with snot. She was all of five, barely reaching the car window. The front left tooth missing in her otherwise bright white smile. I smile back. She looks at me quizzically. I was in fact smiling at the irony of it all.
She was selling boxes of paper tissues that most of us keep handy in our cars to wipe any trace of filth, real or imagined.
But who, I wonder will help us clean our souls.
The morning newspaper just unveiled the Nithari Killing with relish, assured that they have captive readers for the next couple of days and don’t really have to labour over other news items. The girl taps on the window and points at the pink box she was holding in her other hand. 100 rupees for 5 boxes is her last offer. Yes, she is poor, but she isn’t without her dignity. But how long will we allow her the delusion before we steal her soul and sacrifice it at the alter of one or the other human greed? I buy the five boxes (she gives me three pink and two green ones) without having any idea of where to keep them all. Lord! she has everything against her. To be a woman and if that wasn’t enough, to be born in the third world and then to be poor! Does she even have a right to live forget about decency?
The signal changes and the car moves on. Conflicting emotions. The mother in me wants to hold her little hands and take her home and give her a clean bath. The woman in me is indignant at her exposed future that guarantees a life at best sub-human. The Indian in me is ashamed at how easily we accept such stark depravity.
Isn’t it time we really looked at ourselves and cleaned the filth that we have become?