Have you ever witnessed a slum area? Well if yes, then you must be aware with the kind of environment that is prevalent there. Indeed, Slum areas are the metaphors of entire poverty stricken society. Poverty is never called for. However, every nation, every community or every society for that matter is divided between the haves and the haves not.
The former sections of the society live in the cities while the latter struggle in the slums. Slums are the small settlements wherein the poor people make huts and live amidst minimum sanitation oriented condition. It is very difficult to imagine life in such conditions.
However, people live there and sustain themselves Survival is one such instinct which makes people vulnerable and implore people to sustain in the worse conditions. People living in cities cannot imagine what it is to live in villages and slums. Government never has any policies for them and they live completely on their own terms.
If we talk in particular about India then our nation is an agriculture based nation. Most of the Nation’s economy is sustained through farming. However, the living conditions of the farmers are not at all up to the mark. They tend to toil hard and still have to live in the villages wherein there is no proper drainage system, no sanitation and no sewage system.
There are no proper roads and there is no proper transport facility as well. Being on the outskirts, there is no facility amenity provided to them. That is why, slum areas are very unhygienic and a lot of bacteria and diseases tend to get borne out due to unclean environment. Wherever there is human settlement, the first and foremost thing that is necessary is the provision of proper drainage system.
Else, the environment becomes highly inappropriate to live and sustain human life. The animals and the humans exist together due to which a lot of diseases tend to prevail in the respective areas. The houses are also not concrete and there are thatched roofs which can anytime get destroyed thus leaving the people homeless and without any place to live.
Even the food is not available for them to sustain themselves. Be it summers, winters or rainy season, slum people always have to face trials and tribulations as they do not have the basic existence facilities given to them. Still more than half of the population in India lives in the villages. Village with its various hamlet settlements is known to be the heart of our country.
However, it is unfortunate that the heart is wounded by the strikes of poverty, ignorance and carelessness of the government towards them.
The worse time is the rainy reason period whenever it comes to the slum area. The respective slum area after the rainy season is beyond the comprehension of modern man residing in the cities. The kind of slum landscape which is shown in the films and the kind of rustic beauty which we read in the romantic poems of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Keats is just in one’s imagination.
However, reality is never as beautiful as one’s imagination is. Reality is too harsh to be internalized by us. After the rains are over, the plight of the slum area is too unhygienic to be even thought of. Too much of water clogging takes place. The unconstructed roads stink due to accumulated and stagnant water. As water does not get proper direction, mosquitoes and other insects are borne out of them.
Thus, malaria, typhoid, cholera are one of the most dangerous and prevalent ailments that usually occur after the rains. Due to improper drainage system, diarrhoea spreads among the children taking away many of the innocent lives.
The rains are beautiful only for the people who have their own homes to enjoy by looking outside the windows. It is very convenient for city people to enjoy the beauty of rains. However, for the people living in the slum areas, rains are a modus operandi of death and destruction. It is something which problematize the issue of existence way more than the normal days.
There is a poem, Refuge Mother and Child by an African Writer, Chinua Achebe. The poem best describes the kind of lives slum people have to spend throughout their lives. The poem is as follows-
No Madonna and Child could touch
that picture of a mother’s tenderness
for a son she soon would have to forget.
The air was heavy with odours
of diarrhoea of unwashed children
with washed-out ribs and dried-up
bottoms struggling in laboured
steps behind blown empty bellies.
Most mothers there had long ceased
to care but not this one; she held
a ghost smile between her teeth
and in her eyes the ghost of a mother’s
pride as she combed the rust-coloured
hair left on his skull and then –
singing in her eyes – began carefully
to part it… In another life this
would have been a little daily
act of no consequence before his
breakfast and school; now she
did it like putting flowers
on a tiny grave.
[Credit – Poem Source ]
Thus, the helplessness of the slum area after everything has got destructed post rains can be understood quite well through this poem. The phrases like the unwashed children, washed out ribs and dried up bottoms are quite comprehensible for us to understand how the lives of the poor people get governed even during such tough times.
Their lives are similar to the Greek myth of Sisyphus. In this myth, Sisyphus has been punished by God to run a boulder up a hill and the boulder, each time Sisyphus takes it up on the mountain, it again comes down. Thus, the process continues perpetually without giving any relief and freedom to Sisyphus.
The destiny of slum people is like him only. They have to perpetually face such calamities and in spite of that, they are to go on with their troublesome life.
Therefore, it is very difficult for them to recover after the rains are over. The rains get over but the kind of havoc it brings to their living and to their little settlements is beyond repairs.
Perhaps, these people have shattered souls who have become habitual about the travails of both the natural and the commercial world towards them.
Their eyes are sunken and their ribs get displayed signifying the metaphorical crisis they face due to their poverty stricken condition. The scenario of a slum area after the rainy season is not a matter of poet’s romanticisation of rustic life but an issue which needs immediate attention by the government.