Most children would be enjoying their winter vacation from school these days. Some would be snuggled in the cozy comfort of home and others headed for adventure at uphill, but spare a thought for the child on the street who struggles to earn a meal before he calls it a day.
Raju is one such boy who sells inflatable toys of popular gaming and cartoon characters such as Angry Birds and Doraemon.
Raju hardly knows anything about the cartoon characters he sells passionately to a tired parent going home. He also has no clue about his own parents.
Ask him his age and he says, "Saab, I don't know my age. I lost my parents a long time ago. I'm all alone in this world. I neither miss them nor cry for them. Even if I cry, will they come back? How will I earn tonight's meal if I keep thinking about the past?"
If necessity is the mother of invention, then Raju, 12, has discovered it early in his life. In different seasons and on different occasions, they change their merchandise.Another boy namely Radhey Sham, younger than Raju, too belongs to Rajasthan. They make small purchases of assortment from heart-shaped balloons to animal cutouts, paper napkins, dusters, sun screens for car windows, flags and of course Santa Claus caps, depending upon the occasion. They get these goods from Delhi's Sadar Bazaar for Rs 20 and sell them at the Tricity traffic lights for anything between Rs 25 and 30.
These child labourers like Raju and Radhey Sham come from Rajasthan and have never been to school. "Who will pay our fees, books and uniform if we go to school," asks Raju. He adds he knows counting till 100 which is enough useful to count his daily earnings which hovers around between Rs 80 and Rs 100.
"We survive on tea and eat a "mathi" twice a day but we can't do without two chapattis and dal at night.
It is our destiny. We have to live with it," says Radhey Shyam. Yet, they want the dreams of better-placed children to come true by selling them their objects of love.
At the light point crossing of Phase 7 and 3B2, a whole family is engaged in selling similar toys like inflated airplanes. A woman, Shamli, seen selling toys while carrying a few-month-old baby. Her two other children, aged up to five years, play on the pavement. Will they grow up to a similar fate?
Mukesh, who sells trinkets and masks from the movie "Krishh-3", at a Panchkula crossing, says they have resigned to fate and his children may have to follow the suit.
Living in slums or showroom galleries with barely any woollens or blankets, these families guard against the chill by covering themselves with plastic and tarpaulin sheets which they call "kali tarpal".
A new dawn awaits them but they wake up to the old routine of risking their lives in the maze of traffic and smog, while keeping a watch over zealous cops.