Christmas Eve, all busy planning parties and shopping meanwhile I don’t have many plans for the day. So I plan to give something back to society- this post is about what I saw on Christmas Eve. Before I start, I need to thank my landlord, a wonderful lady who I had approached with the request to cook food for 20 people, as me cooking food would be more of a punishment than help. She accepted the request even without a slightest hesitation and made wonderful dish for them. I packed the food and we set off for F.C.Road (I was joined by a friend.).
F.C.Road is a very busy and crowded road where you get everything for very reasonable prices. The road is named after the FERGUSSON COLLEGE (F.C), one of the oldest colleges in pune. You can find almost everything in this, restaurants to cheap clothes. The crowd in the road attracts a lot of homeless beggars and urchins. They would always love free food. As we start walking, a small girl approached us. She is small, I could say she was around six years old. Her brown rough hair was tied back. She holds her palm open and looks at us but doesn’t speak a word.
“What is your name?”
“Lakshmi”, she is named after the goddess of wealth according to the hindu myth.
“Do you go to school?”
She nodded eagerly waiting for me to put something in her open palm.
She just points blankly to the left.
“Which class are you in?”
No answer, she just stares at me. I hold one finger up intending to ask if she was in first grade. She nods her head. I hold two fingers up and she nods for that too. I smiled realising the truth. Soon a shopkeeper walks up to me and advices me not to waste time on these urchins.
“They are born shoplifters! There is no point wasting time on them. You please go ahead sir!”
I fail to understand how bad a six year old can be. Given a situation where your survival is questioned any human being wishing to stay alive would do anything to stay alive. The ignorance just increases their frustration and desperation. They would steal, beg or do anything to move along with the crowd. We moved ahead, and we met lot of people on the way but here i am going to introduce you to a young boy who sells heart shaped balloons. What my assumption here is that after the strict implementation of the begging prevention acts, the children are sent to beg with these balloons as a cover.
It is quite late now and all of them had moved to their small tents away from the city. It was hard for us to find needy people. Soon my friend points out to a boy peeping through the window of a very famous pizza restaurant. We called him over,
“What is your name?”
“Sukhdev”, he was shy and confused.
I asked him similar questions about school and age; I was astonished when he said he did not know his own age. His parents work as daily labourers quite far from the city. He comes to the city in the morning with balloons that his mother gives him. He tries to sell as many as possible to keep his family moving.
Dear people, here we are talking about a child who, I would say, is not more than 14 years of age. He hasn’t been to school at all, doesn’t know his own age and roams around the city where danger lurks in every dark corner. Is this ignorance because we have plenty of children of this age in the country or is it because we have become too focused or shall I use the word selfish on our own worlds that we don’t care about them.
All it takes is a little attention to find them, all it takes is little smile and a small cup of tea to brighten up their day and show the rest of the world what humanity is.
We have hundreds of Sukhdevs and Lakshmis all around the country.