I was not going to post today. And then, this came up...
I was walking along North Usman Road, when suddenly a woman, a young baby on her waist and a boy tugging at her pallu, put her hand to her eyes, that had just rolled over.
Being fed on a diet of scrupulously stereo-type flaunting Tamil movies, I could easily see that a faint was coming on. Just then, she collapsed in a heap, right in front of me, her baby hitting the tar road with a dull THUD! Before I could do anything, she was down, and clearly, out.
She and her baby were quite a handful for me to negotiate on my own. So I called out to a guy standing close by and we both picked up the woman from where she was lying on the road and helped her to a shady part of the pavement. I sent the guy ( I can only remember a bushy, dirty beard and a colourful lungi) to buy some water and soda for the woman and the kids, who had, by then started crying too.
Lapping up the water, she told me her name was Easwari, from Theni district, down south. She had come with her husband to Chennai for some cable laying work, but at the site, her husband found another woman and the two eloped, leaving Easwari and her two kids out on a limb. The 27 year-old woman said she had been beaten up and chased away from the construction site and had no money or anywhere to go. Her eyes were brimming over with tears and she put her hands together, as if to thank me for the water.
How could I leave her there?
I could not. Yet there was work to be done and a more permanent solution needed to be found for Easwari too. I could have given her money to go back home, but she looked like the kind that would be cheated right out of that too. Besides, the three had not eaten in days.
It was the two children with her that gave me the idea. They were, now, for all intents and purposes, destitutes. I called CHILDLINE at 1098 and thankfully, someone picked up the call immediately. I gave them the details and they promised to send some one out to get the kids.
And the mother. I also called the Women's Help Line at 1091 and asked them to tie-up with the ChildLine folks. Just so it would have some force, I told them I was a reporter with The Hindu.
It did have some effect, or so I think. A sub-inspector from the Pondy Bazaar Police Station called me and said he would personally handle the case.
I hoped he would. I called back later to check if Easwari had found a place to go to. I was told they would call me back later in the day. I just tried a few minutes ago and no one has a clue about Easwari or her two kids. "Shift changed, Madam," I was told politely, but with clinical indifference. I'm determined, though, to get to the bottom of this. Easwari needs to go home.
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I've got some pictures up from my Koothu visit of last week on my photoblog. Intended to write about it, but I guess it is one of those things that will not be. This set of pictures is, say, like a teaser trailer. I have some better pictures which I took, but it may be a while before I can put them on.
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I love the fragrance of jasmine. Surprisingly, even when it is in my hair, in the odd instances when it gets there. As it is now.