Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Street Children

Among us lives a boy. A boy not quite like you and me. Let me tell you a little something about this little boy. His name is Ahmed and he lives in the same city as we do, just that he comes from an area that you and I have probably never visited.

Ahmed was born in Machar Colony. He was one of 8 siblings who lived with their mother and father in a tiny little shack. He was a good boy, Ahmed. He did what he was told, helped out around the house whenever and wherever he could. The family was always struggling with resources. Money was always scarce and there was never really enough to eat. On top of that their father was a drug addict who would snatch away all the elder siblings’ earnings and gamble with it. If they would refuse to give it, he would beat them up.

At the age of ten, Ahmed realized that it wouldn’t even matter to his family if one day, he were to not return home. That day, he hitched a ride with a truck driver and headed towards the main city in hopes of finding a better lifestyle. The prospects of the city looked good. First day on the job, thanks to his innocent face, he collected a decent sum of coins cleaning cars. To use up his earnings he went to a chai ka dhabba where he met the owner who offered him a job as a waiter in exchange for a place to stay and sleep at night. Ahmed remembers being happy for the way things had worked out for him. If only, poor Ahmed knew what was in store for him.

One dreadful night, he was woken up from his sleep by his employer who took him to his room and started touching him, touching him in places that made him feel very uncomfortable. When he resisted, the employer became forceful. He slapped him and continued to torture him. Ahmed screamed and shouted but there was no one to hear him, to save him from this horrifying monster. He kept screaming while his master kept on laughing. When he was done, he handed over a 50 Rupee note saying “kaam aaye ga

Since then, different men of all shapes and sizes started coming every night. There was nothing he could. There was nowhere he could go. Ahmed suffered in silence.

One day, he narrated his story to a customer at the dhabba who sympathized with him. The customer went and told the police. The police raided the dhabba and tried to take the boy into custody. Master defended himself by saying “yeh bachey koi ghlat kaam nahi kartey. Yeh tu seedhi saadhi tanka wali naukri kartey hain. Janab, mein Allah say darta hoon. Aap jo ilzaam laga rahey hain, yeh tu bura kaam hai jee. Tauba tauba, mein aisa kaam nahi karta". The police men however, were determined to take the boy with them but it only took a few red notes from under the table to make them change their mind. And so Ahmed found himself back at square 1.

Then one day he decided to run away. But that didn’t get him anywhere. Now he was out of money. He resorted to hunting through trash and begging on the streets. With his face blackened with filth, he stood on the roads with his hands held out… but people simply passed by. It was as if he were a permanent fixture of the area. So accustomed were people to seeing him that they didn’t even realize that this was a human being that they were passing by. Whether he was there, or not there… people didn’t care. He was just not important enough. Life went on!

On the streets, he met a few more boys like him. He started residing with them in the backstreets of busy bazaars, permeated by the stench of urine. They would huddle together in groups of 8 – 10 for warmth and security at night. With these boys, he found himself getting involved in drugs. He would sniff glue to numb his pains. To make ends meet, he would occasionally pick peoples pockets.

When that didn’t work out for him either, he turned to the one way of earning that he knew would not let him down. Earlier he was raped, now he sells himself for real, offering to give a “massage” a euphemism for sex. When asked he says, “Dard tu hota hai. Sharam bhi aati hai. Magar, paisa buhat hai! Ab tu meri behnein bhi school jati hain. Meri maa, buhat khush hai”


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