All is calm
All is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace
Paul Simon humming from my car stereo continued as I stopped at the Sector 25 crossing near Noida stadium. As is generally the case, around a score of beggars immediately appeared from virtually nowhere, projecting their grief-stricken faces with signs of poverty and destitution exposed everywhere. Some of them have infants hanging from their breast, always sleeping possibly due to some dose of morphine or lack of nutrition. An infant being given morphine to help them earn money! If they are not the Devil, then who could it be?
“Holy infant so tender and mild…” Simon sang.
On few occasions, I have seen them switch infants, so you would know for sure they were actually not the parents. The mother-child relationship is traded as commodities in here. Oh wretched soul!
“Round yon virgin mother and child…” Simon hummed.
As I typically do, I put my hand on my face so as if to ignore them, they also get the signal move on to the next car window. The car-window acts as my shield against my potential proximity and subsequent contamination with “the third world class”. The signal kept me waiting for some longer time today and the Paul Simon number — called The Seven ‘O Clock news and one of my favourites — went on.
The song depicts the state of the United States in 1966 where the nation is involved in the Vietnam war while domestically the nation is burning with the Civil Rights issues led my Martin Luther King. A newscaster reads the Seven O ‘Clock news in the song and Paul Simon keeps on humming the above lines. A beautiful grim and ironic rendition.
Suddenly, my mind was jolted from its near-numbness into the real world. The beggar with the infant must have breached the supposedly unbreakable wall of “class division” and touched the driver of another car in her eagerness to more vividly portray her real or made-up state of destitute. The typical north Indian abuses followed and in his vigour to shed off the millions of germs and contamination that must have resulted from that breach, the driver hit the beggar on her face. The beggar lost her balance momentarily, but regained it quickly enough. A few seconds of silence prevailed, as I saw her on my rear-view mirror staring at the car driver. I was expecting her to move away, as it normally happens in such cases. But this one time I was proven wrong — she spat flat on the man’s face, and then stood her ground for sometime — glaring — before moving away, leaving the furious driver mopping his face.
The signal went green and before the shocked man could get back his voice with his choicest vocabulary, cars behind started honking and the show ended and we had to move on.
Again “All is calm” and “All is bright” as I moved on away from those grotesque scenes where those wretched animals throng and Saturn amongst them breed. Yes, they are not human beings to me. If I am a human being, they can not be one. If my daughter could be termed as a Homo sapiens, the sleeping pile of mass hanging from the beggar’s breast cannot be the same form as her. And to them, we must be something like GOD. People who move in cars, have plenty to eat and plenty to spend and look so good. To them, we must be like those aliens from a far off land, who are millions of years advanced. To be like us for them would be like trying to touch the moon.
But what if one day they indeed want to be like us? And all of them at once want to be like us? What of every one of them try to get the life that we are living now? What if they want that their children live like human beings instead of being cursed with destitution? They would outnumber us by lakhs to one. They would come at us with generations of hopelessness and misfortunes. On that day “All would NOT be calm” and “All would NOT be bright”. It would be the Judgement Day and on that day we might have to pay the price for being “the class apart”.