She thought it was gonna be easy. She set out, with a book, a pen and some food for herself that day. Young Megha was only thirteen when she had stumbled across this idea. She was set to free this world from all this non-sense. Now when she was twenty-three, life had taught her a lot more. She yet would walk around the streets with a book and a pen, scribbling things she never shared with anyone. Her father was in the army and her mother was a teacher. It was thanks to them that she knew a lot more about life than other people her age. They kept her aware and balanced. She knew and understood what having educated parents meant very well.
Her fight was for the poor people. She would get in an argument with people who thought that poor people were bad. She agreed only on grounds, that one should not touch her when they are dirty because it would remind her of the incident when she was young and one such person had held her skirt while asking for money and had made it dirty. It was her birthday that day. But she was not angry. She had given some money and had walked away.
Today though, she never thought of money as an option. It was food, clothing and some more food that she wanted to give them. She would talk to Roger about it all the time, explaining to him that she was right. But then, like many, she knew his opinion would not change. He believed that beggars could be chooser and he thought they knew how to choose. She would debate and she was good at it. She would say, “Your mother aborted a child, how did she know it could be done?” and he would mock her saying, “Cos she is educated, but that does not mean she wanted to get pregnant, it was a mistake” And she would rant back at him, “So how can an educated person make such a mistake you dumb cow?” To which he would say, “Cos she could afford to, you silly cat!”
They would argue about how poor people secretly owned houses in prime locations or how poor people fooled the rich for the same of looting them. Megha always thought of this as an issue. A big one. She would wonder how one could actually understand this and even use people’s em0tions.
But that again was when she was eighteen and had little understanding of life as a whole. Today she spoke of it with much more respect and more understanding of what is good and what is bad. She knew that fraud happened with credit cards and pick pocketing happened in trains. And she also knew how one doubted everyone at work when they misplaced their cell-phone thinking some one flicked it. We actually teach people to be careful of our wallets and our cards and our passwords. Educated people only can play this prank. And not all educated people are rich or were poor. It would simply mean, someone is teaching them to do things a certain way so that they would profit out if it. Like we use children for child labor only because they are poor and too young to revolt or understand. The poor here are the children and the smart ones who use them are the ones who have houses and rackets they make to fool people. When we fool our family and friends saying, “The market is not doing so good and so my business is at a loss” and companies do not give you a hike saying, “The recession is to blamed” and looting you of your appraisal. Then is why the rich get richer and the poor are used for their illiteracy or their weakness she thought. Its not like every poor man has two apartments in secret and they are making money. Or that everyone on the streets are smart or been used for trafficking. And even if they were used for it, its a job they are offered for the situation they are in and some one is taking care of them in this way by giving them a job. When we mock the poor and not even give them any money, we are only letting them be treated like a mess by the person who gave them a job and that again is no good to anyone.
To a school full of children she addressed one day in a seminar, she said,
You are lucky. You have clothes to wear and money in your pocket. You can watch television when you want to and danced to music since you were a baby. You can even decide what not to eat, even though it would be wasted and what to eat a lot so you can put on some weight and be a tough guy. You think it’s okay to fail a year and let your parents work one more year, harder, so you can try to succeed. Poor children, do not have such parents, such cushioning in their life. They have a parent, who lets them remain, crying, in the heat of the sun, while they beg for money and try to make ends meet.”
Quickly, a child had raised a hand and was allowed by her to ask the question. “Megha, why do their parents not work like ours”, the little girl had asked with mere ignorance and loads of cuteness.
“Do you know how to eat food?” asked Megha and the girl just nodded in agreement. “When you were a baby, your mom opened your mouth and fed you until you knew in later days that one should open their mouth when a spoon is brought near their mouth, right?” She nodded again. “If I asked you to dispose the chewing gum you are eating, you would probably go to the dustbin or use a paper or a wrapper and then put it in the dust bin, right?” She agreed. She continued asking, “If I told you, that if you cry in front of your mom for chocolate once, twice, thrice or even the tenth time, she would give it to you, won’t you use that technique more, than doing some work for your mother and asking for a reward?” The girl agreed again and some others did too. “Do you think if I told you to fly an airplane, you will be able to do it now, at this age?” The girls face moved from left to right. “Do you think if I told you that there is a test right now for the whole year’s exam, even if you did not know anything and you should pass, would you?”, again the same reaction. Then she said, “If you do not know how to do things you are being taught, how can they know how to earn money? We as educated people choose easy options to cheat, rob money from our parents lockers, snatch money when parents move it in front of us as bait to do some work and we even try to eat all the food we like and not leave a share for our little brother or sister, right? Don’t we all do that at one point?”. All the children agreed with some children looking around to see if they had support for them to agree.
“So, if you can choose easy from hard, like sticking bubble gum under a table, despite of being educated and smart, why do you think, uneducated people, who do not know right from wrong and who want easy as that is their only choice and have understood that it’s really easy and smart of them to stick to this method, use that too” The children seemed to be in agreement and the bell had rung.
She was always amazed at how children understood this so well and elders didn’t. They would call them names and look down on them as if they were a leech. She would wonder who wanted to be born a Shudra in this world. Men of all classes used alcohol as their support to every responsibility they could run from, then why would one get angrier at a poor man than a learned and rich man. She never understood why women who spat on the road was looked down upon with disgust when she was never ever told by anyone that it’s not right. She wondered how, she herself was told to puke in the commode instead of the sink when she got drunk sometimes. Everything takes learning for humans and we all know that. We begin dumb, literally dumb, at work where others laugh at us and give us probation periods to become smart. We, who are educated, get that chance. The uneducated, do not know that there is something called chance for years. We hate people and never tell them what annoys us about them. But we know, if we told them, the problem would be solved and probably, we would be at peace. Who would a beggar talk to? Who would want a beggar to know that you can eat from a spoon as well? If they even held a spoon in their life-time to eat, they would need to be taught like we do, to our little babies or even people who take lessons to know which spoon to use for what at a dinner table.
Despite of knowing all this, she thought, people judged. They hated. They spoke ill of them like they were meant to be spoken of like this. Like they were given a license to say what they wanted, cos they were richer. But they never know, when they spoke of such things, someone else would talk about their character too. The funny bit she thought was, even rich people are dumb and stupid to the extent that they made a fool of themselves all the time and people laughed at their face.
Megha had done the opposite of this. She would arrange for blankets, clothes, even books for children she would teach on her own every once a week, on the streets under trees and path ways. She would bring slippers for the ones who had bad feet from heat boils and bleeds. She would go looking for puppies who lived with these poor people and wondered how an animal was so smart to crack it. She would always see men and women feeding little puppies while they only had a single bread for themselves. She would wonder how they were so selfless and people here wanted money in rupees and dollars and Euros full of rooms and beds made of them and would never give anyone a penny.
She had a job already for two years but she made time for all this. Not because she had the time and mind you, she didn’t. She did it because she was a human after all. She could not judge why a beggar smoked and had alcohol because everyone did and so could he, especially because he is ignorant to the core of the word called cancer or kidney failure. He would relish on food in the dustbin not understanding that it’s gone bad, because he never ate food that was fresh and warm. How then would he know how to do a job? She wondered how, young men and women around the world who were educated and had bathrooms and toilets and hours of free time, not take a shower and wear the same underwear for more than a day and could judge how beggars were dirty when even if it was a day’s dirt, it was dirt after all and yet, they were educated enough to know what hygiene is. Roger didn’t understand either and the night before that, she had hung-up on him because he had called her stupid for spending so much time with people who didn’t matter. It made her cry for the first time, his words. Like he thought, she had a silly purpose and he didn’t have any faith in her.
She was now at a tree near her house with two little girls showing them how to use mehendi on their hands when she heard him. “I am sorry”, he had started. “You are right about yesterday. I should have understood this year’s ago. If I can’t wash my own clothes with a washing machine to do it for me and wear the same jeans for one week every time, how can these people do it with no water, no proper clothes to wear while one is being washed and no detergent or a washing machine? She had only looked up and smiled. “Come, see the mehendi Mansi made for Geeta. Isn’t it cute?” She asked him. Like sorry was never needed and she didn’t expect him to ever understand and yet, was so glad he got it this time.