Great perils have this beauty, that they bring to light the fraternity of strangers. – Victor Hugo.
I called this one Street Prayers after a recent Haiku Jam starter, “Corner of the Street,” but maybe it was inspired by a visit few evenings ago, a visit by a little face in a shop window. The face of a small child, not 10 years old, he had these sweet eyes and half smile almost apologetic but steady. Any prayer of mine could be futile. I was staring at Humanity, and It’s hunger was staring back at me.
We were strangers in a month that’s all for shopping, fun, food, laughter. I stood there with my heart load of trouble but the kid in the street looking at me couldn’t see it. And yet if I hadn’t had trouble of my own, with my own sick child, I probably wouldn’t/ couldn’t have felt a twinge for this child with his cheeks muddied, burnt in the sun. When we came out of the shop he wasn’t there. Now I had guilt. I should’ve told him to stay right there, got him at least a meal. Looked everywhere, but he wasn’t there, not anywhere. What was his name? Did he have a home? Will I ever know? Will a prayer do?
A few years ago while at a street school in Mumbai, I met another little child, his name was Raju. We learnt how to draw and skip rope, brush our teeth and hop. He taught me how to walk through the tiny spaces between the shacks that were his colony. He taught me how to smile and laugh and forget that I’d had a fever for three years, he helped me heal. Raju wouldn’t talk to anyone, he was known as a kid that disrupted the hours at the two roomed house that also served as school for construction worker kids. When he drew, he did black circles. I don’t know how we got talking maybe it was during games and skip rope. I wasn’t great at it, he found it hilarious. That stint there changed me from an ambition driven ‘writer’ to an observer. And I’ve been watching the things that make us more human: here’s my finding. Need, shared or personal, it changes the way we respond to each other. Shared need, the need for acceptance, ah that one can start a revolution. And sometimes we pray for one another, and that’s the most powered place between Spheres that Humanity will ever experience. It changes me everytime I pray for another. (My Psychology lecturer in college would have a fit if he read this post).