In December 2013, while sending my son off to school, the strong cold wind made me shiver to the bone. I gave an extra jacket to my 6-year-old son for the bus ride. Soon after, I started off for office on my Activa – still wondering if it was one of the coldest days of the year and worrying a bit about my son who usually takes off his jacket as soon as he reaches school.
As usual, I stopped my bike at the signal. As it was still a bit hazy and not quite 9 AM, it wasn’t that crowded. However, my sight was riveted on a little child of my son’s age, sitting almost naked on a road divider. I wondered who had forced this kid to sit without clothes on such a cold morning . While I was feeling cold despite wearing a warm jacket, this little kid was staring the road helplessly – with the cold hurting him so much that he just couldn’t think what to do. Who was being so cruel to this kid? I feared that he would get pneumonia.
As the signal turned green, I had to move on. This, despite the despair , helplessness and suffering on this child’s face that had brought tears to my eyes. I reached office – but I was feeling guilty for not doing anything to rescue that little child. Instead of working, I started googling to find out how I could help.
First, I found the numbers of two local orphanages and called them. Officials from both the organisations told us that they couldn’t help street children – as it was likely that the child’s parents were making him beg. In fact, the second organisation I called went even further and asked me not to get into it – because even the police is usually hand in gloves with these dangerous rackets. They told me that I shouldn’t get involved with this – especially if I had a child myself.
I was demoralised – and I feel wary of going to the police, even today. Still, I couldn’t stop worrying for this kid. So I tried calling the UNICEF’s local office but they said that they would need a written complaint. Of course, that would have meant no immediate action – so I didn’t pursue that option.
Then, I found a national helpline for missing children in Indore, where the the pictures of kids are posted. It was a different city – but I felt they were genuine and so I contacted them. The person at the other end of the line asked me to send a picture of the child – which I did not have. He also advised not to go to police, as it’s a dangerous racket. Yet another of my efforts failed.
Years later, on separate occasions, I informed CHILDLINE and even wrote to the Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi. However, I saw that it didn’t help as I could still see the same kids begging – the bruises on their faces and bodies increasingly showing their misery .
I am not blaming anyone here. I am just putting forth the real face of our support system. If any of the readers can share their experiences of how they were actually able to rescue a child, I am keen to know how they did so. But I am not looking for any plain advice. I only want to learn from all your experiences.
Image used for representative purposes only.