Saturday, September 22, 2007

Coping Strategies of Madurai Homeless...

Life’s music has never been a monotonous one. It includes different tunes and makes the living a musical one. But when the same type of tune is played again and again, one gets stuck and starts searching for new tunes to regain the rhythm of life. We can hardly identify the efforts that the homeless people make to give different shades to their monotonous life. Still, they find different events to mark their life into a bunch of varied experiences.

A few homeless people who in part of their ‘Philosophization’ of life reveal that human enter into this world without anything in the hand and die without taking anything with them. This, they continue to tell, makes them not to own anything. Their owning nothing is not a curse, but they visualize it as their choice. “I am happy to be like this”, tells each one of these philosophers. “I am happier even than the people who own many thing”, there is no letting themselves down.

Especially, some of these ‘philosophizing’ homeless people touch the extremes by saying “Even if some relatives/family members/friends approach me with an offer to help, I deny them”. They want to make it sure that they can manage the life by themselves. Thus ‘philosophizing’ seems to be the easy way to cope up with the abnormality of their life.

But this type of people are really very few and the other homeless people, who can not ‘philosophize’ the life need to find out hard ways to move along with homelessness.

Next comes the usage of drugs. This is another major technique used by the homeless people to get out of the space and time that visualizes them as homeless. There are different varieties of intoxicants ranging from beedi, tobacco to liquor, ganja, etc.., When they are in the state of intoxicated, they feel themselves of entering into a different sphere, which temporarily destroy the fact that they are homeless. Interestingly, this usage of drugs creates a kind of group cohesiveness among the users, which is again a bonus to resist with the lonely nature of homeless life.

Recreational activities, to a small extent, try to pave the way for coping up with homelessness. There are some important recreational activities which cerate happiness for a short duration in the long days and nights of homeless, such as, street plays, going for movies, listening to radio and sometimes even watching television by standing in front of any shop. But, these recreational activities are not much effective as the usage of drugs.

A major proportion of the homeless people, when they can not ‘philosophize’ their lives, can not get themselves intoxicated by using any substance or when they can not console themselves with recreational activities, tries to stay under the shelter of ‘pseudo spirituality’. By ‘pseudo spirituality’ we mean the attitude that makes the ‘Fate’ and ‘God’ as the responsible factors for whatever is happening in the life.

(“Religion is the opium of man” – Marx). This kind of spirituality or belief helps them to ‘go on’ with the mantra of just two words, “It happens”.

‘Relationships’ are another factor that plays a significant role in the ‘coping strategies’ of homeless people. The relationships, which they develop with other homeless people or with any other non-homeless, create a kind of belongingness (to the worldly life) in the minds of the homeless. There are several noted cases of co-habitating partners who live a kind of married life, though informally. It is only their homelessness that unites them in many instances.

Also there are a few homeless people who come out with new meanings for their homelessness, such as, homelessness as a ‘Tapasya’ (penance) homelessness as the need for punishing ones own self, homelessness as free and uncontrolled life, etc..,

All the discussed strategies help the ‘social animals’, though they are homeless, to have a ‘storied’ face/life. Still, most of the homeless people are miserable most of the time as they continuously fail to make these stories as their own. They have the masks that never fit on their faces, but they still cover their faces with that or at least trying to.

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