Trigger Warning: The article mentions child sexual abuse.
This is about a rickshaw puller on Delhi roads. He was very young when he left his home due to poverty, and destiny took him to Delhi. His dreams weren’t really big; in fact, he hadn’t started dreaming. He was very young, wanted a few rotis to survive and a place to sleep. He was like any other street kid (in the present scenario, he would have been one in a million street kids in Delhi). Like any other street kid, life wasn’t easy for him. Forget about schooling and education; he rarely had anything to eat and a proper place to sleep. He used to spend his days roaming around the streets, doing odd jobs and trying to feed himself.
A man saw him, heard his story, felt pity for his plight, and they became friends. He gave him food to eat, took him to his room and sexually abused him. It happened all of a sudden, and he didn’t understand what was happening, but he certainly didn’t like it. He resisted and ran. But the kid had a realization “though what happened was weird, it did feed my stomach.”
It earned him food, a better option than begging for a 10-year-old kid. Many men came, pretended to be his well-wishers and took advantage of his situation. He didn’t resist. He grew up and learned to pull a rickshaw. The day he started to pull a rickshaw, he stopped befriending people. Sexual abuse did stop for him, but not for many like him. He saw it happening, the same modus operandi. He neither fought for himself nor for others. He rather thought, “Weak don’t fight. We do wrong because we have a stomach to feed. We don’t have an identity. Governments have changed, but nothing has changed for us.”
Learning about the above incidents shook me and made me reflect on a quote that has always stayed with me, “If we don’t help ourselves, even God cannot help us.” I had all the privileges (which nearly a billion people don’t have) to accept and believe this. When I face an injustice, I don’t look out for help. I raise my voice of resistance with the hope that I did my part, now God will do His.
But I am questioning myself now. It’s not just about me or those who are like me. Now it’s about ‘them’. We see them, but we don’t see them. We hear their voices, but it doesn’t matter. We choose to ignore them; it is more convenient than getting into the dirty water with them and be with them.
Changes happen with resistance; with a simple act of refusal. That’s what happened when Rosa Parks refused to move from the seat reserved for the Whites. But this small boy, who became a rickshaw puller in Delhi, didn’t refuse. He was too scared; he just accepted it to be his fate. Does his refusal matter? Maybe or maybe not. He didn’t have the identity to fight with or fight for. Maybe God is also waiting for him to start helping himself first.
Are we also waiting for God to help him? I read an article on “Trying to see God in everything”. We already have 330 million Gods with us. Let’s not add to this number, but let’s just try to see everyone as normal humans, one among us.
By Cincea Varkey, a student of 2019–20 batch of PGP in Development Leadership at ISDM. These reflections are based on her insights from Mr Harsh Mandar’s sessions.
If you are a survivor, parent or guardian who wants to seek help for child sexual abuse, or know someone who might, you can dial 1098 for CHILDLINE (a 24-hour national helpline) or email them at email@example.com. You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.