Clean body, dirty clothes. She slips on her scrubs, a pair of long Black pants and a loose short sleeve shirt, given to her by her volunteer roommate. A nurse’s gown. Dirty. Dirty because it was given to her used by who knows what previous wearers. Dirty, because there is no laundry machine and she is too lazy to get on her knees and scrub away the filth.
Outside of my room, I hear grandfather chanting. Jheeer Rama Rama Rama, jheeer Rama Rama Rama, jheeer Rama Rama Rama. His footsteps pounce throughout the small apartment floor. His voice fades as he goes in and out of rooms, jheeer Rama Rama Rama, jheeer Rama Rama Rama. I inch my ears closer to the door, curious. Is it to ward off evil? What exactly is this for? I make a mental note to ask Mama Shushma.
With my stethoscope around my neck and my back pack right around my body, I step out to the livingroom to grab some breakfast and sip on some chai. Mama Shushma has prepared grilled potatoe sandwiches and they are delicious. I ask her if they have cheese and she replies, “No, we like to eat healthy here.” I smile inside, knowing full well the truth in that statement and the controversy of it back in the States.
The chai on the stove begins to boil, announcing its ready. Em grabs the pot and pours five small cups for all of the volunteers. A sweet waft fills the air and the brown cream colored tea tastes of cardamon and ginger. Bliss.
We finish our breakfast and the doorbell sounds, an alarm to tell us to get going. Our Tuk-Tuk carriage awaits us outside.
The air is heavier today. What they call fog, I call pollution. Riding to the slums in our auto rickshaw, I see remeants of burned plastic and the flames of a lit fire melts more trash. Down the street we take a corner and to our left, lies an enormous plain. An earthly depression the size of three football fields is filled with garbage. A carpet made of plastic cups, wrappers, tires, broken materials and much more cover the entire trench. What’s more shocking is the amount of pigs and hogs sifting through the junk. Their snots are deep in. Families of pigs, dark and dirty.
She sits there, watching these animals search for food. Beside them, are huts made of nailed wood and rags draped to cover the entrance. Homes. These are homes. Three walls shaped together as a fort with blankets on the floor and a fire pit outside is a home. No bed, no sink, no toilet, no food. The trench. She sees little children squatting and running about. Whatever cloth clings to their body is stained in must. Their bare feet are deep in. Their skin is dark and dirty. They run. They run and they can’t be more than 7 years old. Many children. They run and they smile. They run and they’re barefoot. They run and they’re ignorant.
Anger. This does not shock her. She does not feel remorse or sadness. Anger. She does not close her eyes and look away. Anger. She looks at her Tuk-Tuk driver and she looks back at the trench. Anger. She looks at the women lying beside the huts with empty eyes. Anger. She looks at the men who forever sit, walk, beg, work, gamble, sell, work, beg, and age. Anger. Anger because they were all once children playing in a trench full of trash and hogs who had to grow up. Anger because they grew up working for their parents, begging for money and missing school to be able to eat. Anger because despite their own miserable lives, they decided to have children and keep having them. Anger because they force their children to beg and work and education is void. Anger because all she sees is a cycle of misery and poverty.
Anger, and she promises to never have children.