I have always struggled to express my feelings to people around me. So today, I am choosing this platform to write those down, keeping the fear aside that a large audience is going to read it. The last 10 months have been enriching, not just in terms of learning about the social sector but also in being able to reflect on my viewpoints and perceptions. Sharing a few incidents that have made me question my everyday choices and beliefs. While I have found a way through a few internal conflicts, a lot of those remain unresolved.
Last night, I had a dream, or rather a nightmare. I was in a battleground, fighting with the Tuberculosis (TB) bacteria. With each attack, the bacteria was getting stronger and attacking more people leading to bigger monster, weaker humans and more deaths. That’s all I saw, repeatedly. It was a dreadful sight. I woke up wondering if that’s the reality of the villages here in Udaipur, Rajasthan. In the past 10 months, I have seen countless lives being saved due to timely medical treatment but even one death because of any reason makes me feel helpless. I realize that change happens slowly and that patience is the key but what if it comes at the cost of human lives.
Instagram and I have been in an ‘On and Off’ relationship for a while. I have uninstalled and reinstalled it more than 10 times. It becomes difficult for me to see someone unable to access healthcare due to all sorts of poverty and then log in to the app and come across trending posts on make-up tips or big-fat Indian weddings. Sometimes I feel that I’m living in 2 different worlds altogether and that I don’t belong to any.
Recently when I was home, my mom and I had an argument over a faded kurta I was wearing while stepping outside the house. My mother disapproved my choice of not paying enough attention to my clothes and said that I shouldn’t be doing it. At that moment, I was really annoyed at her and left the room in fury. I failed to make her understand how it was not important after what I have seen in the villages and learnt from the people there. I could not explain why what I wear is the last thing I am bothered about. It may be unreasonable on my part to expect her to empathise and the next time I am home, I hope to sit down and talk to her about my feelings and actions.
- Who am I helping?
I had first thought that I was here to help people, only to realize after ten months that if I’ve helped anyone being here, it’s me. This is the first time ever that I’m going through a roller coaster of strong emotions over such a short duration. Challenging situations and problems have made me know myself better and capable of helping others.
The idea of categorizing everything including people is ingrained in us. Remember all those proverbs that were taught to us as kids, one of which was “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”! I follow it till date. It was so drilled in my mind that I’d even label someone with unkept nails as untidy. But what about those who do not have the luxury of staying clean all the time? If I do not get water for 2 days, no sweet smelling shampoo or a hand-wash for a month, will it be possible to maintain this cleanliness? Will I then be considered less Godly based on how tidy I am?
- Difficulty with empathy
The other day, I visited a patient as he had stopped taking his TB medicines. I was there to make him understand the importance of taking the dose on time because a few more months without that would be a step closer to his death. After driving for an hour on what was probably the worst road ever, crossing a jungle and a mountain, we reached his village to find that he had recently bought a bike on loan and now, since he’s unable to repay the money, he has started going to Ahmedabad for work due to which he has stopped taking his medicines. Ideally, he should not be working, given his existing condition. I was furious and scolded him for incurring such a huge expense. How could he be so careless to put his luxury before his health? In response, the patient said that it was really important for him to buy that bike in order to commute to the clinic and asked if it should be called a luxury or a necessity. Without the bike, he couldn’t get his medicines on time and even now, the scenario is no different. I’m guilty of blaming him without understanding the circumstances.
- Questioning my actions
Recently, a colleague told me about a 15-year old boy who was seen washing a condom by the lake. At first, he thought that the boy might be playing with it but on asking, he realised that the boy knew its usage and had used this one himself. In his words,”Ye sambandh karne ke samay use karte hai. Isse bimari se bacha jaa sakta hai“. On questioning further for why was he washing it, he said that he had gotten it for Rs. 30 by travelling almost 30km away from his village, because the nearest shopkeepers in the town know him. When my colleague informed him that the condoms are available for free at public hospitals here, the boy said that he’s aware of that but doesn’t use them as they aren’t of good quality. Why has ‘giving’ always been about low quality? Should I only blame the government for this? Haven’t I always ‘donated’ only my used clothes to the needy, without thinking if they like it or not?
May be, I am not alone in feeling all this or may be I am, but these self-enquiries keep on increasing. Taking it one day at a time!