Thursday, June 12, 2008
You hear about poverty in India, but no second hand account can compare to seeing it for yourself. I doubt that my own account will be any different, but I will try.
What gets you isn’t that desperate beggars are more prominent than streetlights. It’s not thinking about their perpetually hungry bellies, their parasite-ridden blood streams, their concrete, shelterless existences. The hardest part for me is watching death happen in front of our eyes. Watching another being linger in that liminal stage between life and death. Not just sickness—death. Watching them suffer through their remaining series of breaths knowing that the end is imminent and coming with anguished relief.
I watched an infant—a half naked, dirt covered infant—sobbing desperately as she tried to rouse her older sibling. Was the sibling dead or simply too far-gone in an illness to attend to his familial duties? What hope the baby had, who knows? It would appear that parents were a luxury they had long since forgotten.
I came upon an immobile man who knew one word in English. “Medicine,” he begged. His leg viciously rotting away from disease and infection. He had no choice but to patiently observe his own slow and sick deterioration one limb at a time.
I watched a dog lying down in the middle of Dilli Haat—an upscale outdoor Delhi market popular with tourists (see above). Each time we walked by, his already laboured breathing became shallower and shallower until nothing remained. He met mortality alone and unassisted (but for the flies that buzzed around him) while we sipped mango lassi and haggled with merchants.