This is Babli’s world..

It is rich in some things and terribly lacking in others. It is filled with smiles and love, courage and determination, dreams and hope, prayers and belief.. all things intangible yet precious. Bablis’ home is tiny, maybe as small as a bathroom or a storeroom in upmarket areas. It has one rickety charpoy, not enough bedding to keep this family of five warm on what is said to be the coldest night in years. A few pots and pans in a corner, a few empty containers making you wonder what dinner will be tonight.

But life goes on in this home, and traditions are respected, the freshly painted walls bear witness to this: Diwali just went by. It is probably in this space that Santosha, Babli’s mom whispered her desperate prayer, that Babli expressed her silent desire to be a ‘police’ – , in this very space that the little family gets together at night to share the happenings of the day gone by. At present the topic must be Babli’s imminent heart surgery as prayers have been heard and dreams have taken the first step towards realisation…

The smiles of the children’s face are proof of the strange and almost incomprehensible fact that this is a happy place. For Babli it is a home she is proud of and from where she draws strength.

Yes Babli’s operation will happen soon.. it is just a matter of settling a few hurdles.. another miracle is in the making.. but that is not why I write this post.

I write this post to dispel what many of my peers think about what they callously call ‘jhuggiwallahs“, and quickly qualify with a string of negative traits. No, all jhuggiwallahs are not thiefs or crooks. They are just like us and live with dignity and courage in conditions many of us cannot begin to fathom. Babli is the fourth heart surgery, and we have supported each of the families. An operation of this magnitude often entails a parent having to take leave and we have have helped them with food and basic amenities. Let me assure you that once the child is through, we have never been harassed for help. The only thing we have received is an embarassing amount of gratitude.

I was hurt, angry and ultimately very sad by the outburst of a visitor who was witnessing our planning for babli operation. She cried out: “do not give them food for more than two days, all jhuggiwallahs are crooks and they will harass you for more”.

No ma’am, they are not crooks, they are human beings just like us…