Before our eyes

January 29, 2008 Kamala Amma's GraceHealth

Dearest Friends and Family,

Link is busy back in school, which makes everyone in the ashram who asks, smile. For us both, it’s a mixed bag. Daily I watch the students from the great hall of learning pass over the foot bridge, Amrita Setu, that connects the island to the mainland. The students are in their own world, a world of cell phones, for many, romance, dreams and ambitions. Their hearts are in their minds, they are taught and encouraged to follow their minds. For the most part, like all higher university education in India, they are pressed, groomed and conditioned to seek placement, above all, in a multinational company, to dream of technologies and projects that can, perhaps, in 10 or 20 years time, make big bucks for a new company, and be eco-friendlier, that what exists… As they walk over the bridge, hand made canoe type boats, loaded with brick and sometimes sand, manned by human beings whose limbs are as thick as the bamboo poles they wield to push the boat along the backwaters, cross the waters underneath. Two
different worlds, utterly unconnected.

When we first came to the ashram,in 1999, we were not certain we wanted to live inside it. There was a house near Amma’s room which we looked into renting. The family living near it had two children Link and Anni’s ages, the boy a little younger. Without knowing us, they welcomed us as human beings, with sincere smiles, and hospitality. Their house was very small, but adequate for the four. The father is a fisherman. Amma told us to buy a flat, and so we did not become neighbors, but that initial sweetness and friendship has always remained and expressed itself whenever we have met.

The ashram eventually expanded the kitchen, and the few cents of land they owned were bought up, and they moved to another home, not too distant.

A few years ago, I ran into the mother in town, and we were talking. I have always found language not to be a barrier if the hearts are connected. She expressed that all the fisherman families then hadn’t eaten in over a week, as the catches were very poor. I wrote a letter to Amma immediately, offering that those of us in the ashram who wanted to could give up one or two meals for those outside the ashram who had no means to eat. I received a very loud scolding, I really don’t know about what, as translation is such a problem, but I soon noticed that the fishermen families were eating in the ashram.

Last December, 2006 we went to their new location with Anni. The entire family had contracted the dreaded Chikun gunia disease. I think it is a form of the black plaque. It’s a terrible viral illness that leaves the joints aching, sometimes for years, and can even permanently disfigure the body. When we came back in August, 2007 with Anni’s ashes, I saw the daughter, a tall and very beautiful girl. She was still suffering from the chikun gunia, and was very sad about Anni. Five days ago, January, 2008 Link and I were sitting outside the ashram having coconut water. The father and some friends came by. He saw us and immediately, with tears in his eyes, asked how we were, etc. We asked how the children were, and made arrangements to meet on Sunday.

On Sunday, Jan 27th when we arrived, it was the daughters 21st birthday. The family has grown very thin. We learned with dismay and horror that for nearly two months they had had very little to eat. The eldest child, the daughter had come to our temple here to offer prayers for food. The father said that there were NO FISH in the ocean and he wasn’t going out to sea due to eye problems and joint pain in his elbow. I have given the verbatim account of a newspaper article about this below. The children were taking part in a Computer course, offered for free to Tsunami survivors, to give other job skills. The father said that one cannot make a living anymore with fishing. On the day that we had come, by God’s Grace, a wealthier distant family member had called, learning of their situation and sent food. They have no skills, no handcrafts to keep them gainfully occupied. Still a TV is there to distract their minds… The education that they have struggled to get cannot help them in the least in these
circumstances….They dream of jobs in the police, the army, at the schooling centre… anywhere… like desperate people everywhere, they do not see that the social structures they crave to join have contributed mightily to the position they are in….
In addition to their suffering, we learned that again, all the fisherfolk families are literally starving to death on our own island, right here, right outside the ashram walls. Hearing their pain, I felt so sad and angry and helpless. Furious with the Indian government for taking such poor care of its people. Furious with the type of education that divorces people, young intelligent minds and hearts from the actual reality of life right around them, that makes these rich kids right here, in this ashram, unable to EVEN SEE these suffering people, to hear their cries, to be moved, to share…I felt helpless for not being in a better position to be able to help them meaningfully.

I asked the daughter what she wanted to do…if she could dream of studying anything, what she would study, what she would do. She said, “I can only dream of getting a job, a job so we can all eat….” The children commute to Karunagappally daily for their computer course instruction. They get a concession on the bus fare, totaling 4 rs. a day on expenses for transport. I do not know how they can study with stomachs growling…the chikun gunia has done something to the structure of the head bones on both her and her younger brother…their foreheads appear lower, and sloped back at a sharper angle… I later spoke to a friend who is an MBBS student, and she said that starvation also causes this deformity. The mother has it also. I warned her to be careful of kidnapping, as when Link and Anni used to cycle to school there Amma had told me to be careful of kidnapping…the parents said that a boy of about 15 years, who lives just two kilometers away had been kidnapped when he went to Karunagappally, but had
escaped when his abductors stopped for tea somewhere, and returned home. He had been taken for an operation – to remove his kidney….Such despicable unrighteousness abounds, right here, within the precincts…

We still have not done anything with Anni’s Care Fund, ACF. Since the U$D is falling so fast, I may seek to put it into Euros somewhere, somehow. The album has been going slowly. Karthu plans to come down, possibly in Feb. after finishing with the soundtrack and songs for a movie he is making about Hanuman…Jai Hanuman, Jai Karthu! Karthu is now married to beautiful Nirali, Jai Sita-Ram! As of this time, I have still not talked about ACF to Amma, it has completely left my mind when the opportunity was there. I feel I do not have the right to indulge in music production when the children right in front of me are starving…the planet is in such a horrible mess that we have to think first things first…

The article from the paper:

From: The Hindu Monday January 28, 2008 Vol.131 #23 p.2
Dwindling fish stock worries coast
By Special Correspondent
Thiruvananthapuram: It is a period of poverty and deprivation in the coastal villages of the State. Heavy depletion of fish stocks has pushed thousands of families to the brink of starvation, according to the Kerala Swanthantra Matsya Thozhilali Federation (KSMTF).

“It is unprecedented,” says T. Peter, State president KSMTF. “Most of the common varieties of fish that are available at this time of the year have disappeared.” He says. “The Central government has permitted 50 Indonesian trawlers to operate from Munambam for tuna fishing. There trawlers operate in the coastal waters where traditional fishermen net most of their catch,” points out Mr. Peter.

The federation has threatened to launch an agitation to press for its demands.

The callous disregard of the government for its own people is heartbreaking….so many times, everywhere, Amma has had to pick up the reigns of human survival management, that is the responsibility of the elected, tax paid government servants… We welcome your suggestions. We don’t know what we can do. I will of course, write to Amma again. The family known to us, is not the only one…there are thousands…we still have not been able to tell you the story of Shiva, and he is gone from the ashram now…

Loving you,
Kamala Aunty, Link and Anni

One Response to “Before our eyes”

  • Sarathy says:

    Hi Dude all is weel that ens well, M working For technology GIANT
    satyam bpo , All is Cool Here , Just Runnin On Fain AND M Leavin the Rest to Gods Love For 1 another , How is Aunty , Much Love

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