What Balance?

Back a while ago, mom said she was reading a book that she thought I should read. It was called “A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry. It was all about life in India and how rough it was. I decided what the heck, I’d give it a read.

And oh what a depressing read it was. The scary part is it isn’t fiction. The book is supposed to be a reflection of what life really was like in India, and I’d believe it. I mean, I’ve read about the children as beggars, the sewage workers, even the collection of hair before, so it was hard to not believe the other stories told in this book.

I can’t even imagine living in a place where there aren’t enough places to live, so slums are created, only to be torn down by the government with no regard for where the people living in them should go. I can’t fathom sleeping under awnings and in doorways because there’s nothing else. Nor can I imagine being randomly scooped up and forced to go to a sterilization clinic just so the clinic can fill its quota. What an existance. I don’t think things ended well for one of these characters, not one. If that’s what life is for people in India, no wonder they want to get the hell out of there.

When I told mom I was reading it, she told me that after she had told me to read it, she half considered calling me and telling me not to. That’s how depressing she found it.

The saddest thing I found was I was watching the news, and on came a story about how India was going to clean itself up in preparation for the Commonwealth Games. Here we go again, demolishing slums, scooping up beggars, here we go again, around and around. I felt like the book had come to life on my TV.

I finished the book back at Thanksgiving, and it still floats through my head. So, if you ever decide you need to appreciate just how much we have that we take for granted, read the book. I know it made me think a lot about little things I’d heard, things like the time the guy delivering our pizza looked at me and said “In my country, you wouldn’t be so lucky.” He was referring to my blindness. Yes, I know. Likely I’d be begging, if I was let live at all. That’s a scary thought, but one that’s all too true.

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