Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reflections of a child

As a child I was moved by the pain of others. I would watch blind people go along our village road with a stick groping for a safe step. They could not see anyone or do any work or study anything. Braille system and all were unheard of in our part of the world. There was a deaf youth who would come running at fixed intervals whistling; children ridiculed and made fun of him. There were many crippled guys like my brother who were suffering each day.
Many were sick with all sorts of diseases. I was sad that people, young and old were dying. Whenever someone died in our neighborhood, I would go, watch the dead body for some time and come home, lie on the cement floor and cry. I was simply sad and felt miserable at my inability to help the dead regain life.
I was hungry most of the time; there was not enough to eat as a rule (except on festivals) and I had to work as a child from morning till evening.

I used to be awestruck at the good houses in the village and would stand looking at their gates, paved courtyard and flower plants arranged in pots. One day I waited 10 minutes at the gate of a rich friend ( I was never invited in) to get one flower! I never knew why people were created differently by God, nor the reason for human suffering. I had not read a news paper until I was 15 and hence I never knew about poverty deaths, tsunamis, earthquakes, plagues or volcanic eruptions which killed thousands.
Everyone in our village endured suffering and pain in the hope of a prosperous after life. The nuns and priests used to describe heaven so colorfully to us children that we wished to die to get there. As I walked to the school up and down hungry, I used to chant continuously the names of Jesus, Mary and Joseph so that we would eneter heaven and not the fearsome hell.
I was not aware those days that God and religion were a means of livelihood like any other profession. As in any other job there were good and bad, believers and non-believers. More scientific evidence suggested to my mind later that things happen in this life as per the gravitational, physical and chemical laws which are immutable. If you fall from a height you die, if a virus attacks, one gets sick. A plague can kill the entire society. If one is born in a famine-prone area one will probably suffer badly throughout his life. If one’s inheritance (like intelligence, energy level and physique) is good he is lucky. Otherwise he will have to put in hard work thousands of times more to get a small achievement in life.
Many of the problems people face in their lives have their roots in popular beliefs. Different gods and faiths have caused a majority of all the wars and communal strife waged so far.   A lot of suffering is brought about by certain religious dogmas objecting birth control measures. If there are 7-9 children in a poor house they are bound to suffer all the way.  Children are to be produced only if the parents can feed, love and educate them! 

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