Apoon ko bahut bura lagta tha ki apoon in bachcho ki mafik school nahi ja payega aur achha aadmi nahi ban payega. Aaj apoon ko itna bura nahi lagta hai. Kyonki bada hoke aadmi jo padha hai woh bhul jata hai. To kya farak padta hai, aadmi school jata hai ki nahi jata hai.
– Fatka, a street child in a movie Chillar Party
One more Children’s Day. Let’s talk about children again!
We know that children are fearfully and wonderfully made. We love them. We adore their smiles and their naughtiness. We consider ourselves blessed as parents of those wonderful children. We commit them to our gods. We put holy threads on them. We Christianize them. We teach them. We train them. We constitute their habits. We are strict. We discipline. We punish. We want them to keep balance between religious activities and educational priorities. We produce them as doctors and engineers. We prepare them as bureaucrats. We ensure that they are successful at any cost. It is our pride when these wonderful children score higher than others. We grieve if they don’t. We are honored at the airport when they go to a foreign country. We are super happy when they marry super rich and super successful counterparts.
We are parents. We love. We care. We support. We pray for them every day. We ask others to pray for them every day. We do anything and everything for our wonderfully created children. We are restless when they do not meet our expectations. We are upset and angry when they don’t have intelligent and rich kids as their friends. We articulate what freedom, equality and justice means on their behalf. We train them how to be victorious in this unequal world. We force them to watch Discovery, National Geographic and History channels. We invest in their future. We are vigilant for our children. We want to know who their Facebook friends are and what pictures they upload on Instagram. We are concerned. We have conditioned them to our ideas of freedom and morality. We don’t like when they find their own. We want these tare (stars) to remain tare (stars) and not fall on jamin par (on earth). We mourn, we cry, we go crazy when they despair and depress and some of them commit suicide.
There are other children. Children who are considered as progenies of lesser gods. Children at risk. Chhotus at chai shops. Living under the bridge. Begging at traffic signals. Poor. Vulnerable. Marginalized. In brothels. Sex slaves. Working in factories. In Brick kilns. In Rice Mills. Making bidis, bindis and bangles. Knitting carpets. Making crackers. We are concerned and so we pray for them.
We know they are hungry. We know they are hurt. We know they are lost. We criticize the government for their lack of action. We condemn police for not doing anything. We file Public Interest Litigations and we advocate. We urge social workers to help them. We go to workshops and seminars. We conduct rallies. We protest. We donate. We are doing so much to change their fate. We want the government to act. We want justice for these children of lesser gods.
We are priests, pujaris and maulanas. We indoctrinate children with right and wrong in the Sunday Schools and Madresas, in the temples and in Gurudwaras. We are passionate and dedicated social workers. We wear kurta-pajama and sleepers. We go to every Literature Festival. We try to appear intelligent. We are business leaders. We all care for our children. Some of us shout, some donate and most of us just pray for our children.
We know what is right and what is wrong with the world. What is just and what is unjust. We are well informed citizens of our country. We have read the Republic by Plato and an Essay on Liberty by John Stuart Mill. We have read almost every classic from Romeo and Juliet to Chronicles of Narnia. We are in the company of people who are changing the world, especially children. We quote the Bible, Gita and Quran. We claim we need to care for our children. We have memorized the Ten Commandments. We believe children are God’s gift. We know only wonderfully created children would make future of our country bright. We know that these ‘other children’ need help so we pray.
We are middle class people. Some of us are rich people. We are opinionated people. Most of our opinions are formed by media. We ‘Like’ each other on Facebook. We ‘Retweet’ each other on Twitter. Number of FB friends on and Twitter followers decides our popularity. Some of us still read books and a few of us still write. We sermonize. We campaign. We run NGOs and become activists. We love arguing on TV sets. We have an intense conversation on cricket. We know who is corrupt and who is not. We know who will lose election and who will win. We know which movie is flopping even before its release. We know which show is watchable and which is not. Nukkad ki chai shop is our favorite place. We love repeating this line every day, ‘Chhotu, ek kating la jara.’ Then we go and pray for those ‘Chhotus’. We are normal people in the end.
We abide by the law of the land. We try to follow traffic rules. We try to do no wrong. We live a life that does not harm one another. We do not take bribes. We give bribe if we are in trouble. We are orthodox. We are evangelicals. We are secular. We are liberals. We are Hindus and Muslims, Sikhs and Isais. We pride ourselves in being followers of God who created heaven and earth. We think we have answers to all the questions of life and life after death. We know everything. We know what is wrong with the world. We think we have solutions for the wrong. We talk about it and we pray. We pray for children – for they are the future we say.
We are alarmed around hunger, malnutrition, education, protection and endowment of the children. We roll up car windows when child beggar asks for few coins. We want to help. We don’t help. We rationalize. We know there are criminals who run beggary rackets. We discuss failure of the justice system. We blame politicians. We claim the future of our nation is in danger. Great topics. Great conversations. We indulge in intellectually satisfying conversations. We nourish our appetite with words. We pray.
We are busy eating KFC chicken and McDonald burgers when a child is beaten on the street. We want to help. We see a hungry child on the street. We want to feed. We see new born baby left on the streets. We want to care. There are times when we see small girls being forced in to sex and labour trafficking. We want to help. We want to support. In the end we pray.
These children of lesser gods haunt us every now and then. The child who gives me chai. Child who begs. Child who makes bidis, bindis and bangles. Child with bricks on his head. A rag picker. A Missing child. A sex slave. That child under the bridge. Hungry Child. Blind child. Broken Child. Bechara child. We are praying for you day and night!
Bole toh khane ka, khujane ka, batti buzane ka, aur soh jane ka…kya?
Good night. Father more children. At risk.
By Sanjay Macwan