A Humble Abode
“Bahina, paisa dena, mere liye nahi to phir meri beti ke liye dena.” This is what I heard as a man stuck his abnormally skinny arm through the car window to ask for some money to feed his daughter. I lengthened my posture to see out the window, only to find a walking skeleton carry his malnourished daughter on his back.
This was my first journey back to India since my family moved to the US, and I was not sure what to expect. A day ago, I had woken up in a beautiful country that has never fully experienced extreme poverty, and a day later I witnessed one of life’s most miserable circumstances. In that moment, I experienced true sadness for the man and his child, confusion on how a human can be kept in that condition, and anger towards my motherland for letting it happen.
The driver stepped on the accelerator to move with the flow of traffic as the man yanks his hand out of the window. I didn’t know how to react. I stuck my head out of the car window and looked straight into that man’s eyes, knowing that for the rest of my life I will carry the burden of not relieving their starvation.
As I write this, tears fill my eyes because I know that this man and his child were not granted standard human rights because of the social caste that they were born into. I knew that neither will experience the feeling of being lost in a good book because neither can get an education and learn to read. I know that the man will neither live to see if he has grandchildren nor have a place to call home. Lastly, I know that they will never understand freedom because they will die as captives to starvation.
As the car moved on, the man’s silhouette blended with the thick polluted air and soon disappeared before my eyes. I slouched back into my seat knowing that I will forever be humbled by this experience. However, even words cannot fully describe the weight of my feelings.