Day 16: Aug 10, 2010 – part 1 (Life at the Dharna) by A.R. Corwin
It’s hard to tell from the photos the exact atmosphere of the Dharna. Sitting in Jantar Mantar on a humid day, only part of the area shaded by a nearby tree, where the temperature reached 97 degrees F/ 36 degrees C today – the humidity making the air heavy and your clothes stick to your skin. Food and water make the rounds through the crowd of sitting people ever half an hour or so.
The children run around and play until the heat takes their energy from them. Then they sleep, and their mothers and fathers fan them with newspapers. The older children pace around, listening to the adults and making toys out of whatever paper and string lie around. I have yet to hear a child at the Dharna complain. Despite the heat, the boredom, they wait patiently along with their parents and grandparents. The older participants of the Dharna sit in circles talking, sleeping, waiting all day. It’s the ultimate test in patience. Despite the heat, these people continue to sit here – to make it known that they will be here no matter the weather and the boredom. Would they prefer to be in Bhopal, where the weather is about 10 degrees F cooler? Where it cools down to a nice 75 degrees F / 24 degrees C at night? Of course.
A Dharna has it’s big moments – a protest of hundreds chanting and shouting for justice, reporters swarming – but the small, quiet moments are also extremely important. If everyone only came for the large protests, there wouldn’t be a constant reminder that these people are suffering – that the Parliament must address their plight. Some Bhopalis need to go home, so others come to take their place – making sure the vigil – this constant reminder – continues.
In Europe, America, and everywhere else there are supporters of the Bhopalis – we need to remember that just because there is no big event today or tomorrow, that doesn’t mean that the vigil for justice ends. If we stop our support, then we begin to ignore or forget. We leave to other people to take care of it. We can’t become complaisant just because no one was arrested today. Sitting can be just important as chanting!
The Bhopalis will sit at the Dharna every day, while most of us continue life as usual. Please remember them in your thoughts and actions.