I met…Children…

“What is it about a little blood-soaked child that’s making us turn a blind eye?”

This is what I wrote to be spoken on the stage. All words that sound strong and beautiful when put together.

But, it was only when I looked at the actual numbers and met these children that I understood the truth of that statement…

Did you know that India has 18 million children on the street in any given year?

That child that you bought your bhel from yesterday, or the hawkers that you might see on the shore of your favorite beach…that’s just a small reminder of that humongous number.

When I was little, dad would tell me on a rare Sunday, if you dust the house today, I’ll give you 20 rupees. I would be so happy…20 rupees- all for me to spend on myself!

Whereas these children don’t know the days of the week- how can they? They never went to school…they sell trinkets all day, everyday- earn a pittance…which they dutifully carry home and hand over to their over worked, undernourished caretakers.

Many of you may think: that is all they know…most probably don’t even realize what they are missing.

But, is it so? Really?

I visited 4 remand homes last week. The children I met there weren’t criminals; they were just kids to whom life had dealt a very unwieldy hand. In their each word was a dream for a better life. The acceptance in their voices wasn’t one that didn’t know any better, it was one of long irreconcilable practice. And just around the edges of all that unrefinement was a barely perceptible tinge of anger…guilt-ridden and helpless in that it questioned our well-heeled audacity in infringing upon their “adda” and at the same time subtle and dignified in its well-concealed privacy.

I sat there, talking to them, not knowing my own place…

And when I came out…the world was suddenly a very dreary place to be in…You know what we hear about children’s innocence…their simplicity…their wholesomeness…well, let me tell you: these children are no more innocent than a rampaging serial killer, not any simpler than the mind of a psycho and wholesome? If an early loss of belief in fairy tales and Christmas miracles can make anybody wholesome, these children are the wholesome-est of the lot.

According to the article I was reading, in the year 2000, there were 6562 abductions of children; of which

4871 were for marriage,
1092 for illicit intercourse,
273 for unlawful activity,
190 for prostitution,
63 for slavery,
37 for adoption,
16 for sale,
15 for begging,
4 for camel racing and

1 for selling of body parts.

All I wonder is: in this process of collection of numbers, did any child get saved? Or are these the numbers of the too-late-to-save cases?

I can imagine the parents of a lost child looking at every person they pass and wondering whether he knows where their child is…
No parent should have to let go of their child in anything more than a figurative sense…for to let go is not possible…the thoughts remain, the voices remain…only the person is gone, the laughter and the cry is gone…but, the memories? They remain.
“I wait for the pitter-patter of footfall
  I wait for his laughter in the hall
  I long to hear his voice, to hold him once
  My dreams are full of you…my baby,
  Why did you leave me behind?
  When will you come back to your mother, my love?
  When will you come home?”

3 thoughts on “I met…Children…

  1. Teja says:

    Thank you Butterfingers!! Your poetry helped us win the gold in Lights, Camera, SF- a documentary making event in Spring Fest, IIT Kharagpur. Keep rolling out more of your eclectic poetry!


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