I learnt a new word this week. Diaspora. At first glance, it sounded too deep and philosophical to me. It sounded like a word that you would use to describe a wonderful feeling; something pleasant. Impatient to learn its meaning, I googled it. And here’s what the dictionary said :
“a group of people who live outside the area in which they had lived for a long time or in which their ancestors lived”
To say that I was upset to understand what it really meant would be an understatement. But that’s not why I am writing on Diaspora today. No, the real reason requires a better understand of life and the people who live life in general : Human Beings.
I volunteer at an NGO and one of the activities that I volunteer for, requires me to feed dogs of an area that is local to where I stay. Usually I end up visiting the spot early in the afternoon because the area is notorious for being surrounded with rebellious youth from the wee hours of the evening till the wee hours of the morning. The area where the dogs stay is pretty much abandoned and ignored by the people, or so I thought until today. Due to some unavoidable reason I ended up visiting the place sometime around 7 in the evening today. The spot that one would usually avoid and abandon (and with good reason) was ignited with light this fine evening. But that was not what caught me off guard. The light of the bonfire brought into focus faces and faces of people, scattered around that poorly lit bonfire and talking about perhaps life and their day, all the while sporting a lose piece of cloth on their form to save themselves from a frost bite later. The spot which in my mind was too mushy and dirty for even a mosquito to breathe in was actually home to scores of living and breathing human beings. It was hard to make out how many because the place was surrounded by huge walls on all sides. It was in reality a huge hole in the ground and to maybe a hundred or more people, it was enough.
Today a servant who had worked for my family for around 7 to 8 years suddenly passed away. His age? 27 years. His ailment? Fever. Yes. Fever. He was an arrogant man. The kind who would have a history of dispute with everyone. His driving was the sort where you said a prayer two times : One before getting in and one after getting out. Ever since the new year started, he started complaining of a horrid fever. My parents had been booking appointments for him in a really posh clinic because the said clinic had a good quality of doctors who were respected in our town and also provided affordable services. My parents even offered to cover for his bills. But every time, the prideful man refused. Today when my mother visited his relatives, they even affirmed that he never actually went to the doctor. Why, we’ll never know. Maybe the place frightened him and maybe he imagined that the bill would burn an in repairable hole in his pocket or maybe, he thought that a fever is not that big of a deal and thought to himself that popping a Crocin would do just fine. Maybe this or maybe that. We’ll just never know, will we?
Diaspora. Living outside the place of your origin.
I realize that I am very lucky when it comes to having a family that has not only fulfilled all my basic needs but also tended to my every whim and fancy. I also realize how lucky I am that I have a home to go to at the end of that day and I don’t have to worry about where I’ll spend the night. But really, I am just lucky. Maybe my ancestors were not so lucky.
The place I come from is not the name of a city, but really its just this thing called humanity. We are all connected to each other. We are all a part of the same globe and same space. Some of us just got lucky but some of us, just didn’t. Today I realised the powerful way in which poverty affects people. Today I saw a glimpse of the real world. And I did feel shaken, as any human being would. I felt angry on the system on seeing the homeless, I felt sad and nostalgic in learning of my parent’s driver’s death. But then who wouldn’t? You do feel shaken and dismayed on seeing the grim realities of life but you also forget about it too soon; too early. Tomorrow you may not feel so and on recounting the events of yesterday; you may not feel the same intensity of anger and nostalgia. Tomorrow, you may have moved on. That’s just what a human being does. But then I asked myself, ‘what are you gonna do about it?’ And frankly I was at a loss.
We are all a little too obsessed with ourselves. If we weren’t so obsessed, we wouldn’t be have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Ask.com, Tumblr or maybe even a blog. It’s not our fault. Technology has made us that way. When one has a platform to brag about their achievements why wouldn’t they? But what about the rest who have nothing in their life that they could be obsessed with? The ones who have nothing, absolutely nothing to brag about? What can you do to change that? Can you do something?
I don’t know their story. I don’t know why they are where they are. But what I do know is that I have now become a witness to the disparity of fortune. I can no longer claim absence of knowledge for my indifference. I have to see the half filled glass from both the ways. I don’t want that life which is lived by spending nights in a hole in the ground or the one where I can’t afford decent health care, I’ll be honest. But I also don’t want to see someone else living it. Because its not a good life. It needs betterment.
Diaspora. Diaspora is the precedent to the realisation that you have come back home.