The Eighth Wonder of the World

At every turn I saw them; their faces so dark that they were mere shadows of the night. But their eyes, white spots seeing through the darkness with a piercing intensity, held me captive. I longed to look away, to remain ignorant of what existed. I hated them. Only later did I realise that my hatred was very much akin to fear. They forced me to face a reality – the reality of their existence, and that sullied my world. That realisation marred the fantasy world in which an eight year old child lived.

When I returned home from India that year, I fervently hoped that the poverty I had witnessed would recede into the realm of the forgotten. But I had underestimated the profound effect which the beggars had had on me. Instead their eyes haunted me, accused me, and their hands seemed to reach out and clutch at my heart. Sympathy began to invade me, as my resistance to the acknowledgement of their existence flailed against what I thought to be a detached sense of sorrow for their plight. Being millions of miles away I thought that I was safe; safe from their unending moans and pleas for money, and safe from any connection with them.

But I was connected to them, and my need to simply forget them was mere denial – denial that they were any part of my life or me. It took me seven years to understand why my feelings for them were ever-changing, why they were such an integral part of my life. Over seven years I became indignant and angry at their suffering, and realised my selfish disregard for my good fortune and all else I took for granted.

Now I see through my heart and understand, whereas before I looked through the barrier of my fear. Admiration, now replacing fear, is what had freed me and allowed me to proudly recognise my Indian culture and background. No longer do I feel my world to be soiled by their presence, instead my world has been enhanced and my view is much clearer.

They have taught me about life and about suffering. Now I see what I was once blind to. I see them. Never was there a solitary figure wandering alone, lost. They were always in groups; women, men, children. I see them huddling together, seemingly protective of one another. They all belonged. Never did I see loneliness cloud their features, as so often it has clouded mine. And their eyes! So clear and bright; I see in their eyes cunning intelligence. Their knowledge far surpasses mathematics and the good manners of society. I see in their eyes no resentment or hatred, only laughter. They have no aspirations to wealth, as many of us do. Money is of little value to them, having lived so many years without it. Instead they draw strength from religion, hope from the love they share for each other and for the freedom for which they fought.

It is a fallacy to say that the people living on the streets of India are homeless. They epitomise the saying that “home is where the heart is”, because their hearts lie in their land and in those they love, and that is exactly where they have made their home.

The Eighth Wonder of the World

RedLotus

Joined March 2007

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Artist's Description

I wrote this along with 2 other pieces when I was 15 and in year 11.

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india people

Artwork Comments

  • Dorothy Venter
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