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Of a stolen childhood



By Manas Mutneja

We carry on with our routine on a daily basis. Wake up in the morning, go to work and earn a living for our families. But, we often overlook millions of things on our way.

One of these is the people around us during our journey. We turn a blind eye towards them. Those who are soft-hearted may show some sympathy by buying something from them or giving them something. But in being able to improve their social status, we are just as helpless as them.

Even if we may want to help the rag pickers, domestic help or labourers, the idea of helping a population of them scares us. We then begin to justify to ourselves that we also have a family to feed and are bound by financial constraints. However, this is not the right direction to take. We forget that in the end, there will always be someone more fashionable than us and richer than us.

A survey was conducted locally in our area in which children on the streets and those employed at homes as help were interviewed. When asked to narrate their lives, we found that the farthest they have set foot is their village. Many have only worked at a single place their whole lives.

Whenever we come across labourers and rag pickers, we don’t waste a minute before commenting on them. We think that these people have no imagination or dreams. Some of us even believe that their thinking is limited. Others say that they are the reason our country is lagging behind. But we all are gravely mistaken.

The proof of this is the interviews of children. They had dreams surpassing ours, their determination was more profound and their will power was solid. Most of them could only attend school for some time and then they were shown that the financial means to fulfill that dream were necessary.

And then, one day their pens were taken away and they were given rags to wear and roam around the city. They were told to diminish their flames and take care of their families. Some of them dreamt of becoming engineers but their own structures stumbled down. Some wanted to be doctors but their own lives were left with wounds.

We can only review their situation and I can only write it down. They too deserve to live, but I would like to end this narrative with a question, ‘Don’t they deserve compensation for their stolen childhood?’