Those Tender Hands at Work

लोगो  से  सुना था दिल्ली बहुत बड़ा शहर हैI  वहां सब कुछ मिलता हैI  और वहां के लोग बहुत पढ़े लिखे , समझदार और अच्छे होते हैंI  मेरा बहुत मन करता था कि मैं भी शहर जाऊँ, घूमू   फिरू , पढाई  करू और ज़िन्दगी में कोई मुकाम हासिल करूI  इसलिए जब मौका मिला ,मैं चली आईI” 

A native of Nadia, a small village in Pashcim Banga,thirteen year old Tara, too had dreams. Dreams similar to what I and you share.To wander about the world, like a free bird. Roam. Observe. And Learn. Yet at the same time, being the oldest daughter of a family of five, the onus to help ease the financial crunch devouring the family lay on her.

 And so, when a “bhaiyya” approached her, asking if she was willing to come along to Delhi for work, she avidly agreed. She says, मैंने  सोचा पढ़ी लिखी  तो हूँ  नहीं , इसी  बहाने शहर  भी देख लूंगी और थोड़े  पैसे  भी कमा लूंगी I ” 

It’s been almost three years now, since she first set foot in this vibrant metropolis, miles away from home, where ironically, she actually believed to find the so-called ‘samajhdar and achhe log’, she had  heard about. Quite the contrary, the picture she got to see for herself here, was far removed from the trailer she had probably not even imagined, but just heard about.

Her day, as a full-fledged housekeeper, begins sharp at six, where besides doing all the household chores from cleaning to cooking to ironing and washing, this minor girl is even entrusted upon with the responsibility to look after four adults, to be at their beck and call from dawn to dusk, with little or no time for herself.  And she does every bit of it, unquestioningly,day after day, most respectfully. Such that she embraces each night with a warm smile and a subtle kiss, geared up to welcome each new day as it comes by.

It is a sad commentary that this young girl, who is doing all the work by herself is earning a meager amount, yet the agents who bring such kids from villages to meet the urban supply earn a hefty commission and have made a prosperous business out of it.

Tara’s touching tale is no lone account, but only a grim reminder of the existing callousness, many kids in our nation are forced to face. This poignant narrative is essentially satirical and mocks us, the erudite and the elite, on such self-created limitations, that we as humans find ourselves clutched in.

While on one hand, these little brave hearts have the maturity to plaster an evergreen smile, are willing to regard our family as their own and work with no complaints, no demands, yet on the other, we the so called ‘Samajhdars’, are being beastly and brutal in believing that just because of the peanuts we are paying them, we own them. They are no longer children for us. One may order a pizza or a burger for their own child, but these minions have only written the stale ‘kaddu ki sabzi’to their fate.

But I have one question to ask. To quote Marx, on resorting to such wickedness aren’t we bringing a shame to not just our own name, but also the entire social structure that separate the bourgeoisie from the proletariat. Because when one such child gets browbeaten, the entire ‘shahar walas’ get branded as the exploiters.

As much as I am aware that empathetic families, although in minority, do exist who are earning good karma by educating these children who somehow landed at their doorstep,and helping them make a future, yet, the stark reality is that the heartless families dominate the scene. They might not be doing it consciously, may not have a bad heart or an ill will, but possibly could be the doers of such evil because of their own debilitating needs. But it’s time we understand, that this is no excuse.

This is a sensitive topic, partly because all of us have those near and dear ones who indulge in such practices, a reason why I too was hushed and asked to refrain from doing this write up, in case I landed up offending my own people.

The intention,however, behind this article, is not to injure sentiments but to make you think. Is it right? Do we have no other alternative than to employ tender hands at work? And even if it is forced on us, is it too hard a task for a single member of the family to take out some time for that child, educate him or her and be little more welcoming and affectionate? Talk to them about their rights,so that they too have a fair chance to live in this beautiful world.

Let us live by the philosophy of Shanti deva, and help make this world a better place.

 “All happiness comes from the desire for others to be happy, all misery comes from the desire for oneself to be happy.”


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