Ever since I was a little girl, I would be taken aback by the poor conditions of my countrymen when I traveled to India. However, what perturbed me the most was the young, innocent children succumbed to poverty and the “natural order” of India, by which they had no say or choice in.
One instance that will never leave me is when I was traveling to the city of Shirdi in Maharashtra. When my family parked the car to take a break, a young girl stopped us. The large bags under her eyes betrayed her enthusiasm. She seemed exhausted. She asked us if we wanted to buy any toys, which mostly consisted of plastic guns, paper money, and Barbie dolls. My grandmother (dadi), who was accustomed to the “beggar climate” after having lived in India for all of her life, waved the girl off, but she persisted. Eventually, my grandmother bought something from her for my younger brother.
I was 12 years old at the time, old enough to understand but too young to intervene. I wanted more than anything to give her everything that I had: my money, my undeserved privilege, my empathy. Unfortunately, all I could do was sit in the car and watch. I felt devastated that I could not do anything to help this girl. I cried helplessly, tears streaming down my face and dampening my mother’s chunni. This girl was no more than a year or so older than me, yet the lives we led were so different. No child should have to go through this. This event still traumatizes me to this day: I vividly remember her torn burgundy churidar with white flowers, her exhaustion, and her words “Please Amma, I have not eaten anything in 3 days.” I would be lying if I said that I did not stop typing this for a minute to take a deep breath, I would be lying if I said that I did not feel tremendous regret even now for my inaction, and I would be lying if I said that I did not experience countless other occurrences with young children similar to this.
My regret is what plagues me the most. Even though I could not do anything for my position versus the poverty-stricken children, I wanted to try. I bawled and bawled and bawled. As a twelve year old, this seemed to help. However, now I know that action on my part needs to be taken. I am a firm believer that nothing is a coincidence. I know that this organization can help the children that my heart so dearly goes out to with the passion I always had and the power I never did.