" In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life:
It goes on" Robert Frost
This section is a tribute to some of those people, that the author had the honor to meet in person, who against all odds are determined to survive. There were many, that the author met during his excursions to several towns in Gujarat, that had lost all hope. Many people had still not absorbed the enormity of their losses, and some of those who had, were unable to take charge of their lives. Fatalism runs high in Indian society as a whole. Both Hindus and Muslims attribute the conditions of their lives to providence. Adults and children were often heard saying 'Allah ko razi tha', having faith that this suffering would finally deliver them to the much awaited Paradise (jannat). However from this atmosphere of despondency and misery arose determined individuals who, hitherto might have never made important decisions concerning their own lives, but were now not willing to be flogged down. Catapulted into being functional heads of families, the most remarkable of these were women and children. They are a group marginalized by gender discrimination, economic deprivation and sociopolitical bias. Yet they firmly believed in the old adage, that god helps those who help themselves. It is they who breathe energy into tired volunteers at the end of the day. It is they who teach others lessons of courage and spirit. It is in the eyes of these women and children that even cynics see hope for a better India.
Ruksana is 14y old. After being confined to a relief camp (even after it was officially disbanded), she realized that there were too many children in the camp who had no means to go to school. She grouped them together and started her own classroom. Sitting behind the wall of an old mosque with their backs to the gravestones not more than 10 feet away, the little children love studying with their new teacher. Ruksana loves her job too. Silhouetted against a back drop of children playing cricket amongst the tombstones, Ruksana looks very serious. 'Maybe the riots were meant to change her life for the better. How else would she ever become a teacher?', she asks.
Click here to see Ruksana and her class
Yasmin is 16. Yasmin wanted to be a doctor. Her father refused to let her major in science in her junior college. Science is not for girls, he informed her. Far more intelligent than her classmates and too restless to do nothing, she was miserable in her Arts college. After the riots, the family had no money left. Her brothers are still in school. There was no way the family could support her higher studies. Yasmin came across a group of volunteers sponsoring education for children orphaned by the riots. She wasn't orphaned she said. But she wanted to study. She wanted to become a lawyer. Yasmin is now on her way to college.
Click here to visit Yasmin
The backdrop of this page is a picture of women who had been called upon to make probably the most important decision of their lives. Many NGOs had proposed rehabilitating the worst affected families outside Gujarat, for there were little signs of increased security. Due to logistical and economic constraints it was agreed upon to atleast transfer the children and enroll them in boarding schools outside Gujarat. This was the ultimate sacrifice to demand of mothers that had lost all material goods and dear family members. For over two hours the author watched these mothers listen patiently to people convincing them that sending their children away from them was the only way to not harm the child's future. At the end of the meeting over 40% women made further enquiries. On last count about 30 had agreed.
Click here to proceed to more picture essays > > >
Click here to proceed to Endnote Analysis and other Essays