Some times disasters happen in life for no reason. Disasters could be man-made and on other instances products of nature’s fury, disasters can happen any time. Sitting at home glued to television screens watching people suffer and giving them sympathy is what most people tend to do. There are some however who put themselves to the service and try to share the pangs of those suffering, these volunteers as we call them, gain nothing from this work except satisfaction, or should we say they gain the most important thing in life, they gain happiness.
This story is however not of the volunteers, it’s the saga of a nobody, nobody because that person is not known to many, anybody because that person will not be missed by anybody.
This story is of Kamli, it can be any name, what’s there in a name. Kamli is an elderly lady, all she had was a hut, a thatched hut bought by her husband just before he died, he did not have much money, so he had taken a loan from a local landlord, he died before the loan was over and by then he had already paid thrice the price of the home to the lender . You need not wonder because even if you take a home loan from a nationalized bank you do the same thing, you work your entire life to get profits for the bank. Kamlis husband was no different, he died and left a loan for her. She worked hard for the last twenty years washing utensils and eating leftovers, but finally last years she managed to finish the loan or so she was told by the landlord’s son whose father was now suffering from Alzheimer’s and could not remember how many he had duped in his life. Kamli now sixty, finally has a home, four walls and a small kitchen next to her bed, she had no concept of banking as the prime minister account opening scheme was never told to her, all her money was in the only stainless steel tiffin box she had at home. She did have a few groceries, and some old clothes given by the good ladies who thought to give her old clothes were great charity, but kamli was happy for even if poor, she had something she could call her own, her home. The last thing she called her own, had died twenty years back succumbing to alcohol and leaving her with a loan as his only legacy.
Just when things had come to a blissfully positive halt, the fearful night came, it was raining and Kamli was sleeping next to the stove on which she had cooked today, it was cozy next to the fire and the leaky roof had water wetting the floor of the entire house otherwise. The rain was a little too heavy that night, but Kamli was not scared, she had seen many such rains in the past, and she slept like a log after all the hard work of washing utensils all day long. Suddenly she was woken up by something cold, she opened her eyes and could see that one of the walls facing the river was no longer there, half the roof had collapsed and there was water everywhere. The river next to her home was overflowing and the water was steadily climbing. Within no time the water was up to her hip, she had no other option but to leave, it was raining heavily and all she could take along with her was herself, she had lost everything including the one thing she called hers, her home.
Kamli did not know where to go, she knocked on the house which she cleaned but they did not want to have a guest so late in the night, Kamli spent her night sitting in the temple. She was wet, she was sleepy and she was tired. She knew the next day she would have a place to go at least to wash the utensil as the ladies in those homes would fall sick if they did it themselves.
The story, however, did not end here, next day early in the morning the local leader came, he came with a cavalcade of photographers and be found Kamlis hut most photogenic, he stood by the wreck and took some selfies too, he promised her would help, the chief minister came to see Kamlis hut too,only he did an aerial survey as he had to save his government too, Kamli was a much lesser priority. The home minister came, the finance minister came all of them have so much sympathy, but none anything other than that. The photographers, media personals, leaders of opposition all came in their numbers and brought their own boats. Kamlis hut, life-saving jackets, and boats were perfect for a photo, each one assured justice to Kamli.
The volunteer came and brought food, some of them came to help, some came for photographs but they all helped, at least Kamli had something to eat, each time there was a truck of relief material, she had to stand in line and sure enough something was there. The volunteers were the only ones helping at this time, local mandals, neighbors who had something to share all helped, but the leaders did nothing. Sometimes photos were clicked and the poor old Kamli was an object of much appreciation for photos, most politicians wanted to get themselves clicked with her. She was an instant celebrity and photos with her could be used for subsequent elections.
Then came the vaccine guys, actually, magic drops, each one came with their drops, some with dengue, some with chikungunya and others with malaria, Kamli never knew prevention of diseases was so easy. Politicians, bank employees, lawyers, social workers everyone came with their drops and the best thing was the photos again, it was like pulse polio day and Kamli only wished there were magical drops which would make all her problems go away. People came with their drops and wallah photographers and again giving drops to Kamli was the most desired photo.
One day someone from the administration came to visit Kamli, he told her that the government will give her five thousand rupees to build her home, but they needed her Adhar Card. Kamli had never heard of an Aadhar Card, so now there was no way she would get any compensation, she actually in the eyes of the government did not exist, she was again a nobody. She never lived in her hut and she never had a home it seems. By this time the water had receded and Kamli was in the photo frames of most politicians, she was only there in those frames as there was no home she could stay in.
Kamli had no money, no hope, no husband, she had no food, she had no identity and she had no home to go.
Kamli is the story of any common person, a person who needs help, a person who needs love, who needs a space of her own, an identity. Kamli can be anyone because disasters are truly secular and unbiased. Let’s help Kamlis but let’s be more sensitive too, wish no more disasters come our way, and there are no more nobodies who will suffer.