Fear overriding any sense of justice, Sanjay who stood out among the other Annawadi boys because of his beauty, his ‘loving sound’ and dedication to his family thought about ending it all where it began. Dharavi, a rabbit hole as far as slums were concerned, the largest in India spanning across 216 hectares was the perfect place for a boy in danger to get lost. Sanjay fled to Dharavi to escape the ever-apparent corruption within the Mumbai police force, placing the blame on whoever, whatever, to close the case as quickly as possible. Sanjay had been with Kalu when he died, or rather was murdered by the police, or Ganesh Anna’s men; one could not be certain. Kalu’s cries ringing clear as the stench of overflowing sewage river, the sights of his death haunted Sanjay’s thoughts. Trying to soothe his racing mind, Sanjay played his Phir Bewafaai album while he contemplated what he was to do next.
The rat poison brought his life to a sweet ending, in the company of his sister and mother who he so dearly cherished. Sanjay, despite the hysterics surrounding him succumbed to a newfound sense of peace. Finally, free to escape the corruption facing powerless boys like him, the poison was his way to gain back power over his life. He imagined himself rising up and out of his tin rooved shanty, over the rows upon rows of miserable, power hungry people just like him. Sanjay flew all the way back to Annawadi, back to the coconut tree lined thoroughfare that divided the rich from the poor and for just one moment he was able to picture himself behind the wall that fenced boys who were indispensable like him from the porcelain faced Westerners who lived behind the Beautiful Forevers.
Rewind. See Sanjay lecturing Anandi on the importance of her studies. See him running away from Dharavi, backwards, breathless but still moving with serious pace. See the wrinkes in his forehead, furrowed brow, tears streaming, as he pleads Zehrunisa to give him a loan to escape the violent grasp of Mumbai’s police force. Notice the bruises and cuts decorating his body, a reference to the ‘investigation’ that was conducted in response to Kalu’s death, or albeit the police shooing the road-boys away from the increasingly sophisticated airport. Keep rewinding back, to the afternoon Sanjay and Kalu met in the middle of an Annawadi laneway littered with rogue cows and goats.
Sanjay and Kalu, just like any other usual slum-boy dreamed of becoming rich and famous, with the former being the priority, of course. In the midst of an economic upturn the Annawadians embraced the excitement that came with the economic liberalisation embraced by the slum’s internal government. Young and able boys collected recycling, building their wealth on selling found bottles, cans and containers to garbage sorters who sell their sacks of waste to recyclers, hope acting as a more potent intoxicant than discarded bottles of Eraz-ex. Kalu, a garbage thief with a certain...