I am writing about it long after it actually happened. It just came up somehow and I realised something that I hadn't then.
Following is not an attempt at generating sympathy, nor at adding to the already ongoing debate about the real India. On the other hand it is also not merely an observation. Rather it is something that hits you, you are taken aback for a flutter of an eyelash but you dont realise why and then some time later, it comes. The understanding!
We conduct an educational assistance programme at a slum in Pune. Its a typical slum with zuggis, a nullah, bare-skinned kids running around and playing, parents sitting idle chewing tobbacco. In this ambience we conduct classes in one of the zuggis.
One saturday in February along with other volunteers I was calling out and gathering kids for a session. A small chap (dont remember his name) with just a chaddi comes up to me, looks at me, unaware of anything in the world, says "Bhaiyya, canal mein ek dubki lagaa ke aawu kya?". (He was actually asking me if he could have a bath in the canal and come) Damn!! At that moment I felt something which I couldnt capture into my consciousness. I just told him to do it after we were gone.
But under the humdrum of daily life, somewhere, I was trying to replay that moment and capture the romance of that expression.
I dont remember how the "Aha!" moment came. Guess it was gradual and the layers of the revealation entagled in my life. It surely was the perfect carelessness (may be due to his age or his surrounding), the routineness of the task yet the immense joy that was evident from his tone, the manner- indication of the comfort we share with the kids and, and the ease with which he let it go...
This realisation just made my day! I am floating in the canal since this morning...