Lost childhood

This monsoon season, while we have been spending more time on roads and traffic signals, it is unavoidable to observe life streaming about you. One sees people on motorcycles and bicycles going about on their work while trying to keep themselves dry, people in petrol-diesel guzzlers oblivious to rains while listening to loud electro-techno music blaring from their speakers. And then there are some who are engrossed in their own world of business or social media.

One also observes a small minority of hawkers peddling their wares at traffic signals – pirated books, cloth to clean your house or car, chargers for all kinds of phones, flowers and balloons. And come Independence Day or Republic Day, it’s the tricolour in various sizes and forms that take the place of pride.

Then there is a knock, and you see a small child through the rain splattered window of AC cooled climes, completely soaked and bare feet requesting you to buy something from him so that he can buy food. Colourful balloons, roses or other flowers depending upon the season, sometimes books – the very things which are part of childhood to experience and not to sell. Sometimes, at certain intersections it is children showcasing their gymnast skills with goofily painted faces in their feeble attempt to entertain – all the while earning for their families.

You feel pity – it is so different from the childhood we all take granted for. In so many decades since Independence, with the Right to Education Act in place, it is disgusting that the a percentage of next generation lives on road trying to earn their living when they should be in schools and educating themselves for a better future.

Who is responsible for creating a better world for them?  The common man who lives in his own halo and vacuum of working for a still better life than these not-so-fortunate. The governments of state and centre elected who are apathetic to the life outside their own coterie of friends, colleagues and families. Or a small population of do-gooders who with their own monies or charity of friends, corporates and other NGOs trying to make a difference to the lives of such children.

Last evening, as I came out of a shop in the nearby market, I was beseeched by two small children – in bare feet and tattered clothes selling cheap pens. While I had no need for additional pens, I just couldn’t walk past them to the comfort of home while they were on the road still selling to be able to buy food. I bought pens from both of them and passed them onto kids of hired help – from one child to another!

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