A week back, I watched Shelter, a short documentary that won the AFI DOCS award by the American Film Institute. Shelter is directed by Smriti Mundhra, a talented and sensitive woman who happens to be my cousin sister. The 35-minute documentary helps us identify with the homeless in a very human and real way.
Today, when I read the news (sadly, nothing new about it) that homes of thousands of people in Khori Gaon, in the National Capital Region of India, have been demolished without arrangements for rehabilitation, I was reminded of the children and families that the documentary followed. Once again a basic human right has been violated and this time with the blessings of India’s highest court of justice.
We have chosen rules over kindness, and apathy over love: Who will right this wrong?
Sleep outside on a cold winter night
No quilts for cover, no hearth or warmth
Stand and watch in scorching sunlight
Bricks and rubble that once were called home
No shelter for those without papers in their name
Belongings in hand they watch as their countrymen do wrong
Batons strike as they plead for relief
Life already uncertain with death and disease
Wages don’t reach
Meals are scrimped and saved
Their home the only shelter from the grief.
Child in her arms, ailing man by her side
She watches her solace crumble
Under the weight of our apathy.
Oh, loveless world
Step outside and stand by their side
For our homes are no shelter
But a house of cards
It’s land that we live on, not in concrete
It houses humans, bipeds, minerals, and trees
We live amongst invertebrates and amoeboid too
None have encroached
Except those who ignore this truth.