He minded being unpitiable only at mealtime. At the orphanage, when rich white women visited, Sunil had refused to beg for rupees. Instead he’d harbored the idea that one of the women might single him out, reward his dignified restraint. For years, he had waited for this discriminating visitor to meet his eye; he planned to introduce himself as “Sunny,” a name a foreigner might like. Eventually, he’d come to realize the improbability of his hope, and his general indistinction in the mass of need. But by then, the habit of not asking anyone for anything had become a part of who he was.
–Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity by Katherine Boo
From the epilogue:
The events recounted in the preceding pages are real, as are all the names. From the day in November 2007 that I walked into Annawadi and met Asha and Manju until March 2011, when I completed my reporting, I documented the experiences of residents with written notes, video recordings, audiotapes, and photographs. Several children of the slum, having mastered my Flip Video camera, also documented events recounted in this book….When I settle into a place, listening and watching, I don’t try to fool myself that the stories of individuals are themselves arguments. I just believe that better arguments, maybe even better policies, get formulated when we know more about ordinary lives.
“if the sun was always shining and our load always light we’d be shaking like a leaf with every God given night and we’d break under the weight of any pressure that was ever applied”
“will you be ready when the straw boss calls? he’s got an ever loving bone to pick with one and all don’t let his condescension get you down just have the strength to know you’re wrong and when you’re right the strength to stand your ground”
“If the lion, in all its dark, nocturnal otherness, in all its light, internal sameness, does not exist for future generations, if we destroy its habitat, or call open season on it, what could we possibly find to replace it? It is precisely because we fear large predators that we need them. They hold within them so many things we have lost, or are on the verge of losing, personally and collectively, permanently and forever. If we sacrifice the fear, we also sacrifice the strength, the wildness, the beauty, the awe.”
–Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food by BK Loren
“The older I get, the more I’m convinced: I’ve suffered for a reason. It’s a reason I don’t know yet, but for all of my twenty years it’s been circling me—a forecast of something mighty. There’s no way a person could be born into dysfunction, fighting to survive and helping her family do the same, without some purpose to give it all meaning. On the days that feel dark and endless, I make myself a simple promise: I’ll get out of bed in the morning. Then I’ll head up the hill to class. If I put one foot in front of the other, day by day, I’ll move closer to the light at the end of all this struggle.“
“At first, I was afraid, I was petrified.
Kept thinkin’ I could never live
Without you by my side,
But then I spent so many nights
Thinkin’ how you did me wrong.
And I grew strong
And I learned how to get along.”
“Well, now go! Walk out the door!
Just turn around now,
‘Cause you’re not welcome anymore!
Weren’t you the one
Who tried to hurt me with goodbye?
Did you think I’d crumble?
Did you think I’d lay down and die?”