Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Childhood

I really don’t understand what sort of creatures we are. Us people.

Watching helpless little pint-sized babies die with cold indifference. P was three years old when a shuddering, panic-stricken nurse, with armpit high gloves and three sheets of distance between ‘it’ and herself, brought him to the care-home. Swathed in three dirty sheets lay a half smothered baby weighing six miserable little kilograms with a stomach so distended that he couldn’t stand on his legs. P had tuberculosis. P was severely under-nourished. P was HIV positive.

Six kilograms. That’s less than the weight of all the food we consume in one week.

A government official responsible for education in a high-prevalence state said that children shouldn’t be told about sex. They don’t know what it is. If we tell them, they will get corrupted.

D is one of the many little boys living on the street who can’t understand why E didi and her friends talk about safe sex and protection when there are no small-size condoms available. “Didi how are we to protect ourselves then?” E has no answer. Governments don’t talk about these things.

The Chief Minister of a northern state announced a few years ago that his state had “nothing to do with HIV”.

S is thirteen years old. Everyday he must take his medicines at 7am and at 7pm. The other day he saw a bollywood film on TV with his adopted brothers. S thinks the heroine is very beautiful. He wonders who he’s going to marry. But then immediately, like any other football-obsessed thirteen year old he dismisses the idea. Who likes girls anyway? R is relieved that she doesn’t have to talk to him about relationships and sex right away… but for how much longer can she hold off telling him how his HIV status is going to play a large part in his relationships?

K was just eight when she watched her mother die in pain. Then her aunt took her home. But the neighbours started saying things. K’s aunt realised that her own children would suffer if she allowed K to live with them. K was abandoned without ceremony.

K wants to go back to her aunt’s house, but she doesn’t know the address.

Watch your parents die in misery.
Get told you’re a dirty diseased ill-omened child.
Get told that you will die, before you’ve learnt to live.
Get thrown out on the road.
Get slapped, kicked, pushed.
Get raped.
Get pregnant.

Most children affected by HIV are pushed out of their houses once they are orphaned. There is no foster-care system here. With the kind of discrimination involved and the cost of medication, very few are taken in by relatives. Government-run care-homes turn children living with HIV away as they claim they are ill-equipped to handle opportunistic diseases. Fewer still have access to health care. Most end up on the road where they must adapt to street brutality – emotional, physical and sexual.

Nobody talks about them. Nobody talks to them. Arses like us sit in cars and watch them at traffic lights begging for money. We have many notions – about the kind of money they make by begging; about how all of this is a racket; about how they just use the money to buy drugs.

Arses like us also talk about the magic of childhood.

6 comments:

lionel_gsh said...

Sometimes, there are things that are not within our control. Let us just do what we can in order to help them.

What can you do now?
Blog and spread the reality to all! Let them know.

A reflective entry.. Keep it up! :)

OeCuPz DantA said...

Many of us have our heart closed, so closed until we even cant see the the 'thing' beside or in front of us whereas it just need a little tender..

Do we have to suffer first so that we can do charity one to another?
And yes, lionel is right! There are things that are not within our control, Juz do what we able to do to help..

n.g. said...

i saw an ad this morning that had a picture of a dirty indian style loo with copy that said 'until we rescued her, this was 10 year old Priya's home'. maybe ive gotten the name wrong.

the fact remains that until there are people for whom that ad means nothing and to whom that ad does nothing, there will be little kids that will bear the brunt of an unfortunate life.

B diddy said...

I usually don't think about that so I am definately an ars.

H said...

lionel_gsh, yes well I think that’s pretty much it – to be aware and sensitised as an individual. But then again, even that seems insufficient…

OeCuPz DantA, really you’re so spot on. each of us has cardiac myopia. The closed-heart-syndrome as you put. We can only see our own pain. I think it has a lot to do with the way we’ve been educated, and by whom. Biases are the easiest thing to pass on.

NG I don’t know if there are any real answers to such things. I haven’t met one truly dedicated activist in the field who claims to know all the answers. Where do you begin? Poverty, power imbalances etc will never end.. but I feel that if only we could just be a little more open to understanding other perspectives. If only we could try to be less crass about gloating over what we’ve got by luck. No one chooses to be born poor, diseased, disabled. So why do we have such a sense of achievement about things we haven’t really earned?

B diddy, we are all arses in some measure. None of us usually notices such things unless we are pointedly told about it. Why would anyone point it out anyway? Everything is so consumer/ market/ economy oriented that it isn’t lucrative to stop a moment to consider things that mightn’t gratify some material need. That’s what an education is for… to expose us to perspectives… not only to teach us survival skills and ways to earn more money.

Ben Ditty said...

H is my education :)