இதோ அந்தக் கட்டுரை.
எழுதியவர்: சுதா மூர்த்தி
LIGHTS AS MANY CANDLES AS POSSIBLE
I was travelling with my father in the interior parts of Karnataka, bordering Maharashtra. My father, a retired professor and doctor, used to guide my work and was my best companion in work.
We were in a village where there was a famous temple to a goddess. It was a Friday; an auspicious day for women all over India and many women had come with offerings of fruits and flowers to the goddess. They had formed a long queue but I was not part of it.
I, having come to study the destitute in the area, sat separately, talking to the people. There were fruit sellers, bangle sellers etc. I learned a lot from these people who were on the street. They had faced the harsh realities of caste, money, politics, old beliefs and many more such things.
Their opinions and suggestions at times educated me better than any PhD thesis or seminars on poverty. This is my personal opinion and may be biased.
In one such ‘interview’ U net a retired sex worker (gharwali) along with a beautiful girl of 16 years, who had long hair, a pretty face with beautiful eyes and a smooth complexion. Innocence added radiance to her face. She was wearing a green sari and green bangles and had tucked plenty of jasmine into her hair.
Though I was talking to the aunt, my eyes were fixed on the young girl. During the course of discussion I came to know this young girl had just become a devadasi. Black stained teeth because of chewing tobacco or zarda, a big paunch, red eyes, stinking smell and the greed of money on her face. She was wearing a silk sari, gold bangles and a necklace. But no gold could make her beautiful.
This young girl was going o be a gold mine for the old hag. I was imagining that this girl of 16 would become like her aunt after 30 years. She would also catch hold of some innocent girl and make her a devadasi and use her as money bag. What a pity this girl was not even aware where she was heading. Unknowingly tears filled in my eyes and suddenly, I started sobbing uncontrollably. People standing around were looking at me, wondering what had gone wrong. They probably thought that I had lost something. For the first time in my life, words failed to express my feelings.
My father understood the agony in my tears. He took my hand and said with love and affection.
“Tears cannot solve age-old problems. We can only try to reduce them. You cannot change the lives of every single person. In your life time, if you can rehabilitate at least ten such people, I will be a proud father. Proud that I have given birth to a daughter who could change lives of ten helpless women.
“Everybody should know the capacity and strength of their work. One also should know one’s own limitations. It is difficult to know your weakness than your strength. Don’t aim at the sky. Keep your feet firmly on the ground and work around you. There is so much misery and darkness. But it is better to light a candle than remain in darkness. Try to light as many candles as possible”