Amongst the city span there are children who seep out of every niche and corner. Silent they are as they approach you with outstretched arms and haunting, wanting eyes. It is not until after that you notice the pitter-patter of their teensy bare feet as they trail along behind you.
Almost a nonexistent sound yet this same sound is what I recall from that day. Of course, there is always the possibility that I have imagined this sound within the depths of my mind. Just as it is quite possible that I have imagined drums playing within my heart and whistles in my ears because that is how I felt that night, as I emerged from the theatre. That is how I felt as the shadows fell upon the faces of the city’s ghost children and as the traffic raged on, utterly unaware of those pitter-patters that scuttled throughout. Like mice, so small but so abundant nonetheless.
Silly is the way I feel as I write recollections from that night, the first night I encountered the ghost children, because so many times I have read similar excerpts. Silly because I told myself I was ready to confront poverty, homelessness, and begging on a “different scale” than what I was used to. Silly because I didn’t want to be as naïve as to write my first blog in India about the shocks of a first-hand encounter with a child that stood below my waistline begging.
What strikes me the most, now that I have debated over and over about posting a blog on the subject, is that I have found that my apprehension for sharing was not based on the quality of my work or the validity of my words but rather on the fear of being categorized as globally unaware and unexperienced. This realization showed me just how much of both of those I really am.
So my first blog in India has in fact turned out to be about my encounter with children – who begged in ragged clothing and dirty feet – as I myself walked out of a cinema with a group of very fortunate people. This is not the aspect that I want to emphasize on. I want to highlight the strange turn that our society has shifted into, one where experiences of naiveté are marked as unqualified because they are so simple. Yet, as I critique this change of mindset I realize that there is one thing I fear more that public shame or societal changes, because these will always be things that I will be able to debate on.
I fear the impact this experience gave me will fade and I, too, will allow the simplicity that a raw emotion and the chain reactions can spark will go on forgotten.