The nuisance

I stare at the blank paper in front of me. Question number one asks me to define poverty. EASY! I chuckle at the idea that there are possibly people out there who don’t know what poverty is. Poverty is the state of being extremely poor. Done. The next question asks students how they can help those in poverty. EASY YET AGAIN. Give them some food, some old clothes and if you have any spare change. Non Governmental Organisations also help the poor. Great. It’s not difficult to answer these questions since I properly memorised everything the teacher told me to from the book. India comes in the top 5 poorest nations in the world. Wow! Writing this answer makes me so proud to be an Indian right now. Wish I was born in America or London. I bet they have no poor people over there. Our government is so useless. Such a sad state of affair for so many people.
India’s population is 1.2 billion, 2nd to China. This kid in my class said that India’s current population is 1.32 billion, while China is 1.37 billion. Well…the teacher said to write this answer down anyway. The books haven’t been revised and this is the answer that will get us marks, so what do I have to lose?

Just as I answered the last question, the bell makes a horrible sound to indicate that happiness is finally here. The test is done and I can now finally head home. I’ve been starving since the only thing I had this morning was two boiled eggs and half a glass of milk, which I hate. Mom promised to have some biryani ready for lunch time and this bell gets me one step closer it.

Ugh, finding my car in this post school rush is worse than Kumb Ka Mela. Although I can’t be sure because I’ve never ever seen it, I just know it’s a popular reference point for over crowded places in times of comparison and exaggeration. They need to do something about how crowded this school is becoming. My classmates were saying the school lets too many people in through the EWS Quota. Many teachers aren’t happy about it as well, because the crowd that comes in is more difficult to manage for them and one teacher even told me how it spoils the school crowd. I don’t know how I feel about all this since I never interacted with any of them. Most of those kids stay in their own groups. They never come for the batch parties, they hardly make an effort to interact in class and a lot of them don’t even have smartphones, let alone Facebook. I don’t know how the school expects us to mingle with them. Ah, I can finally see my car. I have to control my temper at my driver even though he made me wait in this horrible heat for 15 minutes. Easy for him since he’s the one sitting in the air-conditioned car.

I HATE IT when these beggars keep knocking on my window. It’s so annoying to keep looking the other way, can’t they just get the hint? Every time they press their hands and face against the window, leaving a hideous sweat mark, I want to yell at them. No matter how many irritated no’s I say, they just don’t give up. It doesn’t help that this red light seems to last forever. Giving them money is such a waste of time, they’re going to get used to it and they’ll just keep begging for more. At least, that’s what my dad told me.

Ah finally its green. Hallelujah! Oh god there’s the sweat mark, left as a beautiful souvenir by them just like every other day! When will they freaking learn?

It’s so sad to see that even in an area as beautiful as luytens Delhi, roads are now lined with tents on both sides with half-naked men hanging their dirty clothes on tree branches. God this country is awful. You’ll never find such sights abroad. There’s only one way to deal with all this mess around me – I need to settle abroad. Quality of life will be so much better, at least better than this shit hole.

My cousin said I could read up a bit more about what poverty actually is, visit a few NGOs that work in this field and help them in some way. She said that working in government jobs is a good way to make a difference and that we need to hold our politicians more accountable on the promises they make. Honestly, she is such a social media warrior about these things. Ranting the whole day, sharing every news article about rape. USA has more rape cases than India anyway so why doesn’t she talk about that as well?

I don’t know if I would ever wish to care and invest my time in all this as much as she does. Thank god my education taught me sympathy and not empathy. Because honestly the latter sounds like a nuisance.

Over the years, sympathy has become more of an automatic response given by the human mind to any situation that we’re taught to recognise as sad and unfortunate.
We’re taught poverty is tough and sad, so we’re sympathetic. But without empathy, sympathy is a waste and holds no value. Without empathy, the sweat mark on your window is more obvious than the malnourished child that left it. Without empathy, the threat to the beauty of your locality is greater than the threat faced by those who sleep rough on pavements throughout every season. Without empathy, sympathy is another thing we have successfully rote learnt.

Photo by Nuno Alberto on Unsplash

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