Rana Preet Gill
HE was standing next to the car at the traffic lights and staring incessantly at the shining paraphernalia strewn in my daughter’s lap — some newly acquired Barbie accessories, her current favourites. He pointed his little finger at a small, blingy bag. I asked my daughter if she could give it to him. An approval followed and the bag was handed to him. His joy knew no bounds. A glimmer of hope surfaced in his eyes momentarily and he went away with his coveted treasure, taking languorous strides.
There are millions like him teeming on Indian streets, begging for a living. Their everyday lives encompass the same ordeals, seeking a fulfilling meal for themselves. A struggle for day-to-day existence. The street urchins to whom we just give a fleeting look at the lights, at railway stations, bus stands or elsewhere are part of this endless cycle, deprived of all benefits. Do they even have Aadhaar cards, I wonder.
These children might not be aware that a day is designated for their rights and rejoicement. Children’s Day — the right to equality, education or even democratic rights. They are oblivious to it, too occupied with getting on with life — survival, with some measure of dignity.
I have noticed my daughter getting extremely uncomfortable at the sight of children begging on the roads. She averts her eyes, tries to hide from their glare; perhaps looking straight into the eye of poverty and neediness is the last thing she wants to imagine in a perfect world I try to create for her.
We, adults, are more insensitive and so absorbed in our busy lives that we don’t even muster a fleeting glance at them. They don’t seem to exist for us.
There will be a large number of functions to celebrate Children’s Day, but for those who are privileged. What about the children employed in our homes and establishments as domestic help? For them, the situation is not that grave, but the work conditions possibly are. Children are often seen accompanied by ‘helper’ kids who carry their bags till the gate of the school and then return to the monotony of work in their respective homes — an irony in itself.
John F Kennedy aptly stated: ‘Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope in the future.’ This Children’s Day, let us shine hope on those whose future lies dormant waiting for that single sliver of goodness that we can incorporate in their lives. Let us spread happiness and cheer on this day where it is most needed. Let us bring about joy in the lives of these children, making them part of the festivities. After all, little efforts become the stepping stones for bigger changes in the world around us.
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