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I didn’t speak up

The road we live on is supposed to be prime property – we are now surrounded by 17 storied apartment buildings – one has a gym and a new one coming up has a swimming pool on the terrace!! But further down the same road is a slum called Pereira Wadi.

Last week as I passed by I saw that the police/ municipal authorities had pulled down many of these little houses, apparently as the builder wanted them evicted. I am not sure who was legally ‘right’ here. All all I know is that there’s nothing worse than to have your belongings thrown on the road and to watch in utter helplessness as your privacy is invaded and the whole world watches you. I passed by too, felt their pain and felt there was nothing I could do to help. I didn’t raise my voice in any way to protect their rights……

This is just one of the many times I’ve ‘passed by’ silently……..when my neighbour regularly beat his wife, I was silent, because I was told I couldn’t go into another person’s home. When I saw a little child acting as a maid and carrying the school bag of a child her age – I was silent. When I have my plate cleared at a restaurant by boys too young to be working….I am silent……..

They came for the communists,
and I did not speak up
because I wasn’t a communist;

They came for the socialists,
and I did not speak up
because I was not a socialist;

They came for the union leaders,
and I did not speak up
because I wasn’t a union leader;

They came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up
because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one
left to speak up for me ….

– Pastor Martin Niemöller

May you be inspired – every day!


  1. Inspiring Citizen Rafi Inspiring Citizen Rafi January 30, 2013

    The Delhi Girl died..We raised our voice, but in vain..Let’s hope that Aravind Kejriwal and his Aam Admi bring a change to our nation..

  2. Indian Home Maker Indian Home Maker September 18, 2008

    Linked this post a second time to another post…let me know if you object.

  3. Pinku Pinku September 18, 2008

    U in your way have spoken…and so shall more and more people and they will never ever dare to come back for anyone anymore.Thats my dream…I hope you will share it too

  4. D D September 18, 2008

    Those lines are beautiful. And this post is extremely relevant for me. I don’t live in a slum or a shanty or a government flat. I live in a sprawling bungalow every inch of which belongs to my family legally. It’s located in the heart of the house – prime property as you call it. And the government plans to acquire it so that they can raze it to the ground to create parking space for the officials!”Then they came for me,and there was no oneleft to speak up for me…”

  5. roop roop September 16, 2008

    got here thru IHM’s … thanks for the poem!!! i’ve read it before but it never fails to stir something in me!!!!! exclamation marks intended.

  6. Indian Home Maker Indian Home Maker September 12, 2008

    I love those lines…but I am not sure I support this kind of encroachment. The poor are not always innocent, they know the power of their vote (though only for immediate gains). My one maid was very worried when they were going to be told to vacate a plot they had occupied. Her grand mother and nine others had been given NINE little homes twenty years ago. It was not a every profitable place then. A few years ago, new construction started in that area, and suddenly new jobs were created for maids, dhobi, raddiwala etc. The ten small huts today are a 350 bricks and tin houses – regularised by the local politicians. The area is dirty (only ten toilets for all 350 odd houses), many including that maid’s husband are petty criminals, there are drunken brawls, loud fighting over drinking water…you name it. You will say what is so wrong with some poor people finding homes and jobs. The saddest part is the houses are not being occupied by the people who OWN them, some local hooligans put up tin sheds and some brick walls and rent them from anywhere between Rs 500/- to 2000/- to people who have moved here for work….this comment is becoming so long, let me do a post on this 🙂

  7. Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues June 16, 2008

    Thank you, Gopal. I’ve put a link to your brilliant blog on mine.

  8. Gopal M S Gopal M S June 16, 2008

    🙂 So this is where Vidya got it from. Lovely one!Bookmarked.

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