Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Revival of Shafa Natya Manch on the Streets of Jama Masjid

The 7th day of April, 2011 saw the revival of Shafa Natya Manch after eighteen long months. A small group of intrepid recovering addicts (still in treatment) from Shafa made it a point to orient the addicts of Jama Masjid on addiction. This was done through a Nukkad Natak (Street Play) in collaboration with Butterflies, an NGO working with the street children of Jama Masjid and was facilitated by Ms. Sangeeta and Ms. Hrishika, MSW, Dept. of Social Work, Delhi University.

Shafa reached the streets of Jama Masjid at 10:30 in the morning. The boys changed into white kurta’s, blue jeans and colored dupatta’s around their waist. The initial community mobilization was done through a song called aao sunaye Raju ki kahani, khatre main hai uski jawani (come let’s tell you Raju’s story, whose youth was endangered). Once people gathered the boys started with the Nukkad Natak called Raju ki kahani (Raju’s Story). Now the audience here was not an elite class, they were people from the streets, they were people who needed drugs to avoid hunger, they were mothers who would share a sniff with their daughters, they were daughter’s who would do anything to get a puff, they were kids who would prefer fluid to mother’s milk, and they were men who would protect and enable the community and aid them with the substance.

The whole scene was charged up. The sutradhar (narrator) had his Damroo (a small two headed pellet drum shaped like an hour glass) working perfectly and was looking into people’s eyes to ask them questions. Nasha (addiction) was laughing loudly and cunningly and was intonating his voice as well. Raju showed all his dark sides and greed for substance. Maa (mother) did a perfect role enabling Raju. The Thanedar (policeman) raised a question against our policing system. At every point during the play there were placards to aid the play. There were dhapli’s (tambourines), dhol’s (drums) and shoulder mike’s too. There were CRA’s (Child Rights Advocates) and local representatives who were controlling the crowd.

The best part was the interaction that was happening between the crowd and the Shafa representatives at the end of every play. Akhilesh Ji, while answering a question, also held a local cop (who was standing there) responsible for the situation of people there. The cop became defensive and moved away.

We did the street play at two other places – opposite Meena Bazaar and in the Park opposite Jama Masjid. People were drowned in substance as they stood there and watched the juggler’s game. To my astonishment not all the addicts there were from the streets, some of them were from good families and just due to there inability to leave  addiction were stranded off their homes.

This was not the very first time somebody has gone there to help, there were children who knew all about HIV/AIDS and Relapse and Recovery Homes and so on and so forth. The sad part was that there were people who really wanted help, but now did not have the appropriate support system. There were some touching moments when an addict came up to the mike and confessed that he wanted help with tears in his eyes.

This place, just between the Red Fort and Jama Masjid actually seemed to be a hub of drugs and drug abusers. For the first time during the day I wondered whether such places have been ignored by us for good. I wondered whether I would have gone to this place on my own to help somebody, if not with Shafa Natya Manch. I wondered, would I myself have ended up here during my addiction, if not helped by Shafa.

And that’s where I closed my eyes and thanked GOD to have given me a chance, a chance to rectify myself, a chance called Shafa!!

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