Every evening without fail he used to turn up at my place.Always on time, 7.30 sharp.He used to drop flowers at my front door.Mostly it was marigold.sometimes jasmine or lotus.Always neatly wrapped.He knew my preference very well.Never disappointed.I would go to my door and bring in the flowers long after he had left.The flowers used to make me smile.The fragrance too lingered on long after i had kept them aside.This was a routine now.As a matter of fact I liked getting those flowers from him.An unknown face gave me happiness everyday.One day, i happened to catch the reason behind my everyday delight.And it changed everything.
My first reaction was shock.He was very different from who i imagined him to be.How could my imagination fail me to this extent.I was intrigued, I had to know to know more about him.And thus began our little talks.
I would everyday go to my front door sharp at 7.30. to find him there.I got to know about his family, friends, preferences and the fact that he had never been to school.Another shock.I asked him the reason and he said its in his family.Nobody had ever been to school and he was no exception.I would have never guessed had he not told me.It made me sad.He was after all only a 9 year old kid..
I decided to talk to someone from his family.I need a reason as to why was a 9 year old kid forced to grow up.I went down to his house and what i found out there amazed me.Their reason was simple "why does he need to study when he is earning even now?? ".I didn't know how to answer that question then.But it stayed with me all these years.
I am sure all of us come across such kids.They turn out to be "Chotu".Yes, the chotu you come across when you visit roadside stalls or dhabas and sometimes even restaurants."Chotu" turns into "Choti" who accompanies her mother, the mother, who works as the domestic aid in your house.
The government has taken steps towards eradicating the menace called child labour.It is a huge problem and can't be solved overnight.But little steps taken by us as aware citizens will go a long way.
Where to complain if one comes across any incidence of Child Labour
1. Police Station
Lodge a complaint at the nearest Police Station
2. Labour Commissioner of the concerned State
For contact details of State Government Labour Departments, see http://www.labour.nic.in/
3.Pratham Helpline for Child Labour(Rescue helpline for Mumbai & Maharashtra)
Call 022 - 65134884
For more details, visit http://www.pratham.org/