The Glaring Privilege by Namita Prabhukolwalkar

The Glaring Privilege

‘Privilege is when you think something is not a problem because you aren’t affected
personally’ said the Canadian author David Gaider. The true meaning behind these
words was lost on me until till I met someone in this Pandemic – a young seventh
standard boy.
When the lockdown was announced in our Country, I like the several others I know
shifted our work and lives online 24*7. It was an easy and effortless transition. I did
not have to step out even for groceries; Let alone all the other splurges I allowed
myself to have because even though my life was more comfortable than ever – I was
living through a Pandemic.
Then one fortunate day, I came across a boy who was passing by my building. He
was trying to ask people around for food. Coming from privilege, I was immediately
suspicious. The number of warnings we come across reminding us kids are USED
for helping with robberies. But this was a young boy. I couldn’t imagine he meant any
harm. I offered him what little food I could and struck a conversation.
He was a confident seventh standard kid who had lovely school stories. He was a
such an energetic and happy soul. I asked him why wasn’t he in school on this week
day? He smiled and said, “Didi, sab band he. School bhi band he. Kuch chalu hi nahi
ho raha. Mummy-Pappa ka kaam bhi band he.” I went in for a minute to fetch him
some water, but by the time I came out again – it was like he had vanished.
It was like an epiphany. Education though a fundamental right has been a privileged
practice. Rights can be exercised only when kids and their guardians know that they
have them and how to exercise them.
The morals that the boy taught me are going to stay with me forever. He not only
reminded me to use and share my privilege but also to take any form of unfairness
personally. He reminded me to try and equip myself with tools and tricks to grow
together with my Society. I know now that one of the ways to help him would have
been calling the child helpline immediately instead to letting him wander away and
vanish.
Even though it feels like an overwhelming change to make, if we as a group make
even small efforts over time – We could really move mountains. We could implement
basic rights such as education in true letter and spirit. And if someone wonders
where to start, I have realized it starts with noticing and striking up informed
conversations.

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