A Monsoon Diary
September 8th: Finally manage to find a way through the floods to the railway slum dwellers in Sarvodhya Nagar. The place is a disaster. Walls, rooms, entire houses have collapsed because of the rains. The first person I see is Leela, preoccupied by something much more immediate: "A relative's son's committed suicide. He ate some poison and I went to the autopsy. And I've just come back. In my house, the smaller room has just caved in. And I don't think even you are going to help. You are just come here and you go off. That's about it! ....The last week it rained everyday. And all the time everybody was wet. We don't have that many changes of clothing.All our clothes are wet. We have to sit down in wet clothes, and that results in fever, vomiting, headaches. My daughter still has fever. She is standing here but she is running a temperature. And my son and another daughter are lying at home. They have fever."
Sushila pops her head round the door to ask us to come and look at her house. "Look at this house. Full of water! The whole house drips with water. It gets drowned in water. And just this one small girl, the parents go to work and she, poor thing, she just bails out water the whole day. Everybody has to wade through all this muck. And we have asked for a drain to be made here. Our people say that they have asked for it, and they have permission. But nothing happens. My mother in law lives in this house. And it's fallen down. The roof came down and we put plastic and everything. But when it rains it falls down again and we have to.... When it rains nobody gets to sleep at night. The houses are full of water. This old lady here, she has nobody. She is alone and she is ill at this moment, and there is nobody to look after her. Nobody to see whether she has had a proper meal or not. The house drips. Neighbors try to help. But how much can they do?
Contrast that with a diary entry for this same day from a friend who lives in Civil Lines: "It was truly more like a monsoon day - monsoon morning - it was more like what you see in pictures, with very dark clouds and lots of greenery in contrast to them. And beautiful light, where grass looks extremely, fluorescent green. And lovely breeze. Went for a walk, and on the way back it started drizzling a little bit, at around 6.15 in the morning. And just as you came back home it really came down. So we couldn't resist sitting in our living room with all the doors open, even though some of the rain came into the house, and just watched it pour over the garden, over the huge peepul tree, which was swaying in the breeze. And it was simply exactly what we had been waiting for. And it rained quite a bit that morning."