Children’s Day: Life’s harsh, but hope drives them to dream big | punjab$chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Children’s Day: Life’s harsh, but hope drives them to dream big

“I wish to study and wear a uniform like others in my neighbourhood,” said Roshini, 8-year-old, who accompanies her father for rag-picking to city’s Sector 29 daily.

punjab Updated: Nov 15, 2016 11:48 IST
Aneesha Bedi
Anika cooking food for her family in sector 34 Chandigarh on Monday.
Anika cooking food for her family in sector 34 Chandigarh on Monday.(Karun Sharma/HT Photo)

“I wish to study and wear a uniform like others in my neighbourhood,” said Roshini, 8-year-old, who accompanies her father for rag-picking to city’s Sector 29 daily. Going to school is not as easy an option for her as others at her age. “I don’t like picking up scraps,” she said.

There are other kids like Roshini, employed in laborious jobs or merely begging to survive, all day, every other day. As HT interacted with Roshini and two more kids on Children’s Day, it emerged that the day’s significance was not only alien to them, but they were far from identifying Jawaharlal Nehru. For them Children’s Day, is like any other day.

‘I want to become doctor to ease peoples’ pain’

For Roshini, who wants to become a doctor one day, it’s the sheer excitement of ‘the ability to easing others’ pain’. Kissi ka dard theek karne mein accha lagta hai, jaisa doctor humara karta hai (The joy of easing someone’s pain is immense, just like the doctors do for us), said a smiling Roshini as she nodded her head. Her day, currently, is limited to strolling on the streets with her father from 7am to 9pm, only to earn that extra buck for her family.

When asked about relevance of November 14? She said, “It’s like November 13 or 15. What is so special about today?”

‘I will cook to ease my husband’s burden’

All of 11, Anika Mishra, from Hallomajra, was spotted cooking on a stove on the pavement near the Sector 34-35 roundabout. Serving her family, she said, besides the desire to go to school, she only thinks of cooking well so that she could ‘ease her future husband’s burden one day’.

Ask her why, she quickly says, “Our families are as it is under so much pressure, so the least I can do is ensure my loved ones have enough to eat. That’s how we’ll survive. My mother taught me how to make food.”

Her mother, who was married at 15, says she doesn’t want her daughter to repeat the same mistakes and insists that she’ll put Anika in a school in their native place in UP soon.

When she was asked about the day’s relevance, she smiled and said “don’t know.”

‘I want to play cricket like Kohli one day’

For Sonu (7), who alternates between selling balloons and begging for a living, cricket is the ultimate dream. Evident in Sonu’s mother’s words were the harsh realities of multiple other child beggars here.

His mother Rita, said, “After my husband left my children and me for another woman, we moved to Chandigarh. We are still quite new to the city, but I can’t help but take my children’s help. Once things settle down, I’ll hopefully be able to let them go to school.” Sonu was studying at a school in a village in Uttar Pradesh.

Sonu selling balloons in Sector 34-35 light point Chandigarh, on Monday. (Karun Sharma/HT Photo)

Having watched TV at a friend’s house there, he idolises Virat Kohli and wants to bat like him one day. Besides begging all day, he takes out an hour every day to play some cricket with his sister and soon after they sleep wherever they find it safe. But this hasn’t deterred his spirit to fulfill his dream.

Mera bhi waqt aayega ( My time will come), he laughed as he stood and waited for the green lights to turn red to approach his next customers to buy the balloons from him. When he was asked about the relevance of November 14?, he said, “It’s is Babaji’s birthday (Gurpurb).”

Last week, member of parliament, Kirron Kher, asked deputy commissioner Ajit Balaji Joshi to look into the increasing problem of child beggary in Chandigarh and ensure these kids were sent to school.

The Chandigarh administration’s claim to make city free of child-beggary by October 2, 2015, is yet to see the light of the day.