I am going to Malaad today. Just like Govendhi slums about which I have talked quite a bit on www.comfortaid.org, Malaad is a sprawling slum that is home to thousands of very poor Muslims who clamor for every inch of vacant space.
I am prepared. Good comfortable shoes to overcome slippery surfaces, loose clothes for it can be suffocatingly hot in the sea of humanity and a hankie with a good dose of perfume for I have puked in the past when the municipality comes along to clear backlog of human filth and garbage from open severs sometimes; the hankie gives you breathing air.
I am going to distribute zakaat ul Fitr to 20 most deserving families - about $65 or less per family, depending on size. I have received the zakaat late from few donors in the US ; otherwise I had distributed the bulk of it in Mumbra a few days ago, on Eid day.
Malaad is not too far away from where I live, some forty minutes by rickshaw and boat; I smell it before I see it, a now familiar gut wrenching stink of open sewers and human waste. I go around narrow lanes swarming with people; women cooking or washing clothes, children playing of defecating into open sewage gutters, dogs trying to scavenge whatever discarded which is not much and the ever present, agony inflicting flies, swarms of them. They sit on you, your entire body, and have a way of finding their way up your nose if you let them.
I visit the 20 tagged families and am invited to their hovels, offered tea and tales of misery and sadness. I listen, try to be sympathetic to the complainers and smile at the ever present semi naked kids. Then I give them their dues and leave with vague promises of future help with their needs - housing, education, medical...
I flee as soon as I am done, relieved it is over. I reach home depressed, only to be cheered up some by the antics of Maaha Zainab, my oh so mature soon to be 8 year old. But it has been a sad day...
No blogs until Wednesday as I am off to a remote village in Madya Pradesh to see if CAI can assist a local community purchase land for burial; they have to use other collective graveyard and there have been issues (and fights) about Aliyun walliuallah….