It was only yesterday when I went to a park to get some fresh air. I know talking about fresh air in a city like ours is no less than a daydream. Our city is among those many cities in India where progress is on one side of the road and on the other side, there is a cow and the question is how to cross?
There was a time when Kanpur had a grandeur of its own but as the industries migrated towards the port cities, the progress of our city also got buried under the banner of ‘work in progress.’ I am among those people whom you would find in common places like parks and bookstores but in the worst case, you may even find me under a tree in case of public holidays. The fact which astounds me the most is that no one bothers about the other person in places like these which is so unlike the common disposition of Indians.
This was just another day out for me. I had plans to complete the second edition of my favourite book but as you know, plans are not always meant to be accomplished. It was only a matter of time before I realised that something caught my attention. On normal days, I wouldn’t really give a thought about what’s going on in the world around me because it takes too much pain to take my eyes off my book. Indeed, this sight was special.
I saw a mother with her toddler and the mother was caressing her child. She made her child swing on the tiny hobbyhorse. And as the child enjoyed his mechanical ride, the mother encouraged him via hand gestures. What actually grabbed my observance was the babysitter of that child. A skinny, malnourished, frail kid of probable age between eight to ten years stood there, watching another kid of his age bracket enjoying the best phase of his life. The baby sitter had big, bright eyes and I could sense the joy in those eyes.
The boy was thoroughly amused just at the sight of his little master’s amazing ride. He didn’t demand anything, neither did he expect anything from his mistress. It was only he who knew how much he wanted to be in that ride. I am sure his heart elated each time when the hobbyhorse whirled around.
It occurred to me as if the child was the most sublime soul in this entire world. He was unaffected and oblivious to all negativities, the child found his contentment in someone else’s happiness. Truly, he was more mature than most of us.
The question that had started poking my mental peace finally rose. Who was responsible for his distasteful condition? Was it his parents who back in some village themselves craved for a frugal meal? Was it his mistress who employed him as the caretaker of her child but at least provided him with food and shelter? Was it the society which doesn’t care about the laws regarding child labour unless their own child is the victim? I leave the question to you.