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Delhiwale: His extraordinary childhood

A 12-year-old boy named Vikas sells roasted bhuttas under a peepal tree. He goes to school in the morning and makes a living in the afternoon. He doesn’t seem to think there is nothing extraordinary about it.

delhi Updated: Jul 21, 2017 10:32 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
Delhi news,Delhiwale,Child labour
Vikas, a class 5 student sells bhutta on Nelson Mandela Marg.(Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

Late one afternoon on south Delhi’s Nelson Mandela Marg, we come across a street food seller under a peepal tree. He is roasting bhuttas on a bed of red-hot coal.

“What’s your age, sir?” we ask.

“Barah (12).”

“Where do you live?”

“Near the traffic light.”

“Where’s your mother?”

“She washes dishes in the apartments.”

“Papa?”

“Carpenter.”

“Why don’t you go to school?”

“I’m a class 5 student.”

“What do you want to be in life?”

He doesn’t respond to this query. Instead, he says, “My classes start at 7am. I return home at 2pm. I quickly finish my lunch and I go to Okhla Mandi to get our daily supply (of bhuttas). And then I come here.”

“Your hands are black with coaldust.”

He stretches out his palms and looks surprised.

His left arm is tattooed with the word ‘Om’—in Hindi.

He lifts his other arm. It is tattooed with the word ‘Vikash’ — in English.

“My name. I had my arms tattooed for Rs 30.”

“How much have you earned so far?”

He hesitates.

He is sitting on a plastic bag. The money, it seems, is kept under it.

A customer comes and the class 5 student starts warming a previously roasted bhutta.

Meanwhile, traffic continues to move smoothly on Nelson Mandela Marg.

First Published: Jul 21, 2017 10:32 IST