The place had the heat of a desert, with the white sand glazed like a new ceramic tile. Yet a cool breeze squeezing its way through the hamlets brought the freshness of vegetables, with irregular sniffs of cow dung. I was along with Ujjwal and Vinay for an express purpose. Vinay took the lead through the market moving swiftly across heaps of cauliflowers, gourds, lotus roots, onions and mostly potatoes. On the western side sat silver smiths apparently less occupied, but busied in a friendly chat with the other fellow smiths. The day had not yet begun. But they were all set for the commotion which soon would invade barren market. This market sells everything that the simple villagers of Lucknow luxuriate. Ujjwal quickly quipped as we darted across the crowded vegetables and hoarded apparels: “This is a village mall and it’s all in here.” I did not dare to approve this comment, and thus turn back, since my feet were struggling to hop across the green richness to keep up with the swiftly flying Vinay.
But then, a stench just grabbed my nostrils and I was halted by this unseen powerful force. It was coming from a hamlet just a few yards before me. There were more huts in front of me and the stench was now strong. I jumped into the common veranda of the huts. I stopped and stared at the apparitions of strange people who lived in a curious world. They mostly looked pale and ruggedly fair. There was dirt on their cheeks and smeared stains on their foreheads. They were colourfully adorned in bits and rags, squatting, eating, scraping, throwing, straining, and walking. They would have been mummified to see the three ghastly men standing at their portico. The huts were dismembered, and amputated at doors and windows. I felt sick and piteously disgusted at the utter disregard of human dignity. There were screams of children, with none at sight for me. I had to make a judgement. Vinay and Ujjwal was curious to know my thoughts. But I hadn’t calmed my heart for my brain to make an evaluation.
I believe that the only passion one should allow to override one's reason is love. Love might make no reason, but no reason has an argument with love. I cried. My disgust was refined to love. Soon I was making small discoveries from what I witnessed, and was making enough reason for love. We moved between the huts, finding vacant beds, and rotten trash at intervals. On the southern side of the slum, was the butchery. My eyes soon fell on two little boys hammering the knees of a butchered goat, while another skinning the head of the fated goat. Their tender age was no limitation for a gory drudgery like decapitating a fierce ram.
We passed by a huge Banyan tree, with coir ropes hanging as a bad omen. Ujjwal took us to the other side of the road, where a few more huts lay sparsely, but comfortably. Ujjwal had his eye over this place and the terrain looked familiar to him. I took my few steps into the area, where there were a considerable number of children crawling all through the area. But my first stop were at a group of children squatting together to play a homely game. There were four girls and two boys who were engaged in the interesting game, while quite a few young onlookers enthralled in calculating and miscalculating. I stooped down into the game, when the offended gamers stuck their cards to their hearts and some hid it behind their backs. These little kids were all below the age of ten and they were already gambling! My eyes fell on the coins and some paper cash lying on the sack. They have not yet learned to hide their crimes. While the game stood still, with fearful eyes staring at the monster of me, one kid broke the ice.
Sir, are you a Policeman?
I had made my decision. My love had now a reason. We have to work and transform this community. As it was evident, there is a lack of sense of morality. This slum belongs to the community of street Performers, popularly known as Nat Community. The slum lies in the outskirts of Lucknow, very close to Lucknow Airport. Ujjwal had first found this slum and he immediately realized the need at this place. We prayed and we knew that God is calling us to this place. We have not received permission to work in this slum yet. But we are praying and we know that nothing will stop us from working for the well being of these people. But we need your support and your care and sure we covet your prayers.