I have been watching the coverage on television of the horrific attacks on Mumbai in last few days. Shocking is an inadequate word to use. In fact, there are not enough words in my vocabulary or any dictionary that could articulate what I have been feeling. Emotions have moved from anger, horror, fear, sadness and a sense of emptiness at the futility of such violence. While I think of so many things that need to be done to prevent such attacks in future, a question that creeps up again and again is – will anything be ever enough?
Nearly a week is over since my last post on this topic. Those people who sent warnings about breaking down the homes in slums did not come. Probably, the corporator had done the job of keeping them at bay. So said the maid. But yesterday I saw lines of worry on her face. Since it did not happen at the appointed time, it may now happen any time. I guess that is the thought that might be worrying her. I did not ask her. How does one live with this kind of uncertainty?
Essential to normal living is a roof over our heads. Like most people I know, this is something I have taken for granted. This morning I was looking at an advert about a real estate exhibition and mulled over the idea, expense and exertion of buying and maintaining a second home. It would be nice to have a second home I have often thought but the idea of keeping it in good order when my current is not in perfect order has deterred me from doing anything constructive about this half-expressed desire.
An hour later, my maid rang the doorbell and gave a detailed explanation on why she was delayed to come to work today. She and her family members along with several neighbours had gone to meet their corporater. Two days from today, their homes in a nearby slum area would be broken down. A notice had been put up yesterday to this effect. While I listened to her open mouthed, she had already picked up the broom and went about the daily task with her usual deftness. I asked her where her father lives as I knew he takes care of her two-year old daughter when she comes to work. She said he lived some distance away, not in the same slum area.
After some time I asked her what they would do if and when their homes were broken down. She smiled. Nothing, she said. After they finish breaking, we will make it again and with a flick of her right hand she returned the broom to its place in the corner and took up the swabbing of the floor.
I am still a little dazed thinking about what would happen to her life after two days. But there is no clarity or purpose to my thinking. Except that the idea of buying a second home seems a little redundant and an unnecessary extravagance. Let appreciate the value of what I already have and try to keep it in perfect order is a recurring thought.