Under a Blanket of Shiny Stars

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What does a human being need to survive in this world? Food? Clothes? Shelter?  Others would say we need love, care, affection, friendship or family. Everyone will have their own opinion but the consensus still remains that the basic needs every person needs to ensure survival is food, clothes, and shelter.

A large number of people receive these needs and take it for granted not realizing there are so many unfortunate individuals out there who have no access or means to get these things. On a larger scale, we have refugees, victims of war or political unrest, victims of natural hazards like floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes. On another scale, we have orphans, street children, beggars.

Every morning on my way to work I pass these few young men sleeping across the trench on the pavement. Sometimes I pass by without any thought minding my business. At other times I think how I would fare if I were in their position. Not having shelter to shield themselves from the cold or rain, Not having a home where I could sit and watch television or read a book, Not having a place I could call my own.Not having a bed to sleep on.

Yet they continue to survive. They pick up discarded boxes and tear them to make a sort of sheet on which they could sleep. They have stones and logs for pillows. The ground is their daily bedroom. How fortunate are we that we have a home, clean bed sheets and a room to spend the night.

They sit under the trees or cover themselves with broken buckets to shield themselves from rain. They cover themselves with used bags of cement or leaves.

They earn a living by washing or cleaning cars as the traffic lights force the drivers to wait in long queues for more than an hour. Everyone has their own specific set of cars to look for. In case someone else approaches a car not belonging to their “client list” chaos and fights usually follow.

Sometimes they are such a nuisance. They tease and harass women or young girls passing by hoping to get a reaction out of them. I have many a time been told how beautiful I am or how nice it would be if they could lay their hands on me (which is quite scary and something they are very much capable of doing).  Sometimes they wait for unwary passengers or tourists and rob them of their belongings. Sometimes they just cause unnecessary mayhem by fighting and beating up each other with stones and bricks or whatever they can get their hands on.

The few coins they get for washing cars is usually spent on food or cigarettes and sometimes drugs. Some use the money for luring girls for their pleasure. It amazes me that these individuals hardly have enough to sustain themselves yet they have more than two or three children of their own who are forced to beg on the streets or turn into  hardened criminals and prostitution to get a single meal for the day. I understand they are human beings just like I am, they have needs and desires just like I do, but why do you have to resort to these behaviors? Why force your own daughter or wife to live a life you are living? Why not go to school? Primary education is free. Why not avoid causing chaos in the streets?

I was blessed to have an education, a safe home,and a good job. I do not have to beg for money or resort to harmful and illegal activities to get a few slices of bread. yet how many of us realize how privileged we are? We often look at these youth as a menace to society? As unneeded vermins? As criminals? Does not having a life we are accustomed to make them less of a human? Does not have a stable upbringing make them less deserving of life? Does our attitude towards them help to find a solution to these issues?

They are seen wearing rags and filthy clothes, using shoe strings as belts. Most of their clothes are hardly fit to be used as dressing attires. Sometimes they pick throw aways from garbage cans and alter them to their liking. Yet we have wardrobes full of dresses we will never wear and still continue adding up to our collection.

They have nothing yet they make the most of everything. We have everything yet we feel  we have nothing? We have homes, beds, chairs, tv and music systems, phones, delicious cuisines and so many things we hardly give any thought to how lucky we are.

They have a blanket of stars and the dark sky above their heads. They have the grasses and ground to lay for the night. They have trees for houses and the passersby for entertainment. They have rags to wear. They have broken heels or plastic bags for slippers.

All they are proud of possessing is a blanket of shiny stars which can never be snatched or stolen and for which no claim can ever be laid.

 

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