It was raining as I sat alone in the car en route to the airport. My eyes followed the trails of water left by the raindrops that splattered across the window. My mind went through all the reflections that the kaleidoscope I found in Nagpur could provide.
Two days earlier… Prompted by a friend’s declaration that it wasn’t worth visiting Maharashtra if you didn’t try Vada Pav, Pav Bhaaji and Dabeli, I was standing at a Dabeli stall. I have had not tried that yet. Turned out Dabeli was Pav Bhaaji’s very close relative. It was delicious. I had the honour of being served by the chef himself- a twelve year old.
My father was accompanying me. As we walked away I looked back at the stall and then turned back to my father and asked, “What would really happen if we call the police now and report of child labour? I mean, he didn’t seem to have been maltreated but…” I trailed away.
“There are two possibilities.” replied my father. “One. His family is given a warning and is fined a huge amount. The boy would now neither get an education nor get the chance to learn the family business until after two or three more years.
Two. He would be whisked away by the authorities away from the family, put into an orphanage and his studies would henceforth be taken care of by the government.
See, in both ways he would be emotionally scarred. At present there’s a fine line between doing the lawfully right and the wrong in situations like these. We as common citizens can hardly do much than watch.”
Seeing me look very morose at hearing his reply he added, “There are NGOs and government institutions who are making sure child rights are not violated; child labour is not practiced. Don’t give up hope. The fact that you asked such a question tells me we live in a much more aware society. It’s slow, the path to justice is painfully slow. All we can do now is make sure those around us are not affected. Start small. Small things lead to bigger things.”
I looked down from the window once the airplane was high above in the sky. The city of Nagpur looked very small. Its people almost insignificant. But its memories were strong in my heart and somewhere among the pages of Nagpur Diaries I had found a new purpose for my life- making everyday count.