Divya- A True Story – Surinder Garg
Can you imagine a family of 3 living in a big city surviving on Rs.2500 a month? I recently came in touch with them just 38 km from India’s parliament where crores are wasted every hour for doing nothing.
A year back, we noticed achievement of a girl child, Divya, who had 92% marks in 9th standard. She was cheerful, spoke fluent English, was confident of herself and had great ambitions. But everything had changed in a year.
They lived in a one room house in a slum colony and used to make Rs 6500 per month. Her father used to ferry goods by rickshaw. He was quite old and sick and would earn about Rs 4000 per month and her mother worked in a private school earning another Rs 2500. Divya studied in that school from 6th standard and had been performing brilliantly. Her parents knew the importance of small family and good education and their entire world revolved around their girl child.
Last year was catastrophic for Divya as father developed health problems and was unable to ferry goods due to weakness. Her father was hard of hearing and would not get another employment. Their mother was now the sole earning member. Divya appeared in her 10th class exam and had to start working in a private school at Rs 2000 per month for few hours, for teaching unprivileged children for few months before her results are declared.
She had completed 1 month in her job. I met her and asked her about her plans for further study and what she would like to pursue as a career. She just glanced around and looked at the sky and gave no answer. I repeated my question, but she remained silent and gazed around. I enquired about her father. She told he is sick and does not go to work anymore. I enquired, how her family manages with just Rs 2500 per month. She said her mother manages the house with Rs 2500.
I enquired about her bank account details as her salary was to be transferred. She said that she had no bank account as she did not have Pan Card and she had no money. I joked that she will not have her salary if she did not have a bank account as trust does not pay salaries in cash. Suddenly she turned pale, she closed her eyes and was frightened beyond imagination. Her body looked as if she had stopped breathing.
Suddenly I realized that she had not eaten 3 meals a day. She had no milk, no vegetables. That is why she had stopped going for exercise. She had stopped talking, to conserve her energy and had not answered my stupid questions about her plans for study and career. She had stopped going to free evening coaching classes which the trust ran for poor children. Her mind was just working on ‘WHEN SHE GETS HER SALARY SO THAT 3 of THEM CAN EAT’. All this frightened me. I assured her that I was just joking and I am sorry for that and she will get her salary in cash. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and murmured “Sir, please ask the trust to pay my salary in cash. I do not have a bank account”.
I paid her salary there and then without any voucher and a little more. Her body had started breathing. Her eyes were catching that we were around her. She took a glass of water. The child had taught me how to survive under adverse circumstances. I am sure, she will fight back and she will win.Love you my child.