A Little Drop Of Water

January 13, 2014

His name was Ramesh.  I was about 9-10 years old, and he, maybe, 3-4 years older.  He was working as a domestic help at my home.  My aunt was in charge of keeping home then and she treated him well.  Till date, the only person I have known to treat domestic help with respect, consideration and kindness is she, my aunt.  Now you would think this is a happy story.  Sadly not.

This Ramesh had to deal with a spoilt brat of a girl who would pinch him at the slightest disobedience.  This girl would take pleasure in teaching him a lesson.  This girl thought this was how he deserved to be treated.  That girl was me.

One day, after my usual abuse of him, he cries out in pain and asks me, “How would you feel if you were pinched?”  There was no threat in his voice, just pain.  I remember freezing.  I remember walking off in a daze.  I remember starting to think then.

He was bigger, older, yet I dared to do this to him; whereas, I would not dare to beat or pinch my older brother who was smaller and younger than Ramesh.  One, because my brother would hit me back.  Two, because the whole household would hold me back and protect my brother, not even taking a moment to check if my brother provoked me in the first place.

For Ramesh, there was nobody to protect him or defend him.  Even my aunt would not pay much attention to my picking a fight with him, thinking it is just a fight between children.  Between a child who lived a life that was protected, privileged and provided for and another child who lived a life of labor, responsibility of providing for the family and no rights to childhood or to even stand up for himself.

After that I was a new person.  After that, though Ramesh didn’t have to suffer my treatment, his life was no better.  He was still a child; what he had to do was still child labor.  He left for his native place a year or two later.  I do not know what happened of him.

I realized my fault immediately and corrected myself, but it took me more years of growing up and experiences to realize that lack of physical abuse alone is not fair treatment.  There is more to it.  Taking advantage of somebody’s weak moment, denying somebody something simply because you are in a position to do so, using force or power in any form to get your own way, trying to own somebody’s life because you provide for them, all these and much more amount to unfair treatment.

Many people subject themselves to such unfair treatment.  Because they either don’t know their rights or they are denied their rights.

If Ramesh had not spoken up that day, I might not be the person I am today.  If I had not been the thinking person I am, his situation might have become worse.  Either ways, only my life changed, his in essence did not.

This happened more than two decades back.  Not much has changed for the better.  I am still witness to incidents like this in varying degrees that have continued to happen since.  I continue to request people to open their eyes.  I continue to request people to stand up for themselves.  I continue to stand up for the right.

Here is reaching out to all the thinking people out there – there is more you can do than just talk about Devayani and US politics vs Indian politics.