It was a tryst with destiny for the children, and one of sorts for me. On Chacha Nehru’s birthday when schoolchildren all over the country were commemorating this day with processions, competitions and the like, here were four children celebrating in their own way. Except that this was no celebration of joy, only one of existence.
The eldest one was a girl of maybe thirteen, next a boy of ten, and then two toddlers, male or female, I am not sure, maybe four and two year olds. As I came out into the balcony of our office on the second floor to look at what that monotone drum beat was, I expected to see a line of children clad in the uniform of some school in the locality. But no this was more interesting. A girl sat beating a drum to which the toddlers danced or rather moved as rhythmically possible in that age. Next the boy lay a piece of cloth, on which he performed some actions a mix between yoga and acrobatics.
I didn’t watch for more than two minutes. The sight of those unbathed children in discoloured rags, belonging once to more fortunate children, had pricked my conscience.
Compulsory education? A ban on child labour? So many laws. Yet, who is going to take these children off the streets and give them a decent life? Not me and that’s all I, you, or the third person, can say.
A celebration of children’s day?