My dad once said, “Life always gives you something, but only if you are receptive enough to take it”
And few days ago, in my third slum visit, I was for once receptive enough to take something from probably nothing.
It was the fourth crammed house in the row; I knocked the door with a smile. The dangling door opened with a creak showcasing a withered woman probably in her 40’s. She was wearing an old ragged sari and a brilliant smile. Her welcoming nature and her twinkling eyes suddenly made me feel at ease. With a lot comfort, I asked her questions, some were borderline uncomfortable as we were surveying their cost of living. She kept on answering them animatedly.
The situation to me looked very grim, with their monthly income just being Rs.10-15k in a family of six. It was even worsened with the loan that they had to repay. I was waiting for her to crib just like other households before, but nothing came. Her answers were surprisingly very genuine and crisp.
When I asked her about the expenditure on food, she laughed and said, “It just happens, who counts.” I requested for an estimate, and she confidently said, “Just how much a middle class household spends.”
I looked up at her in an instant, the look on her face confirmed that she thought herself to be in the middleclass category. My curiosity took hold of me, so I asked, “What about the poor households?”
“They live right across the street on the pavements, they don’t even have shelter can you imagine?”
“Hmm” I replied, guiltily peeping inside her house. There were few kids lying around, with hardly any furniture or appliances on display. There wasn’t even a gas stove, rather a kerosene chullah, responsible for painting the walls pitch black.
Inwardly I smiled; this woman was surely an inspiration to me. She was the real life example of somebody who looks at the better side of life rather than cribbing about the harsh reality. The outlook might not do anything to improve their situation but it would at least make life much more tolerable.
I couldn’t help but feel overly grateful. That day when I stepped in my home, I felt like I stepped into a palace.