“Show me your pass. Monthly or weekly volunteer?” A grey, wrinkled guard looks at me quizzically as I stand at the door drenched in sweat, my backpack weighing down on my shoulder.
“I don’t have a pass. I am not a volunteer.”
“Then why are you here?” At this point I am convinced I am going to be turned away and the thought of going back into the sweltering heat is a miserable one.
I am at the Mother Teresa Kalighat Home for the Dying in Kolkata on a day long halt on my way to Bhutan.
I look at him half pleading, half self-righteous: “I have come to visit.”
He points me to the door leading inside with a dismissive wave. That’s it? I feel I have just won an unnamed yet crucial battle. Grinning ear-to-ear with relief, I tiptoe past him and enter a huge hall with scores of low beds arranged in neat rows. It is empty save a couple of destitute too near to death to have the energy or will to rise. The rest are all in the dining area, taking a break. Continue reading