School: Sometimes too big a dream

Source: Countercurrents.org

By Anubhav Chakraborty

Piyush and Anuj are not your average kids in the block who pack their bags with notebooks and lunchboxes and go to school everyday. They are the actual free-birds who never go to school and spending their entire day playing with their siblings in a one room apartment in Jasola Vihar. Their parents leave early morning and leave the house under the care of Piyush and Anuj. They are not alone; they are also accompanied by their elder brother Ravi who they don’t quite like because “he is too bossy”.

However, they are not the only kids in the neighbourhood who don’t go to school .Ramesh and Sita also stay in the second floor of the tightly packed apartment in Jasola, a floor above Piyush’s house.They also loiter around throughout the day with no elder present at the house, and wait for their parents to return at the earliest from work.

Migration, hence, is an over encompassing factor which affects not only the ones who are in pursuit for a better life but also the ones who are participating in it without any their own active consent in the process.

Picture info-Ravi on the extreme left,Anuj in centre and Piyush with their father

Ravi at first glance appears to be slightly shy, however the more time you spend with him, he begins opening up. One might think it is quite unusual for the oldest sibling to be so shy, but then again he himself is merely 10 years old. Ravi, Piyush and Anuj have been staying in Delhi for the last one and a half year when their father left their village in Eastern Uttar Pradesh and decided to come to Delhi to pay off a debt from a moneylender. The plan was very simple, once the debt was repaid they would return back to their village. However till now their father has only managed to pay the principal amount back but not the interest amount which was levied.

Their beloved Church

Every day is more or less an adventure for the trio in the dusty streets of Jasola and their one room apartment. However sometimes the adventures can turn out to be real tricky and dangerous. Before Diwali last year, the trio decided to go to the nearby Church where they would get a lot of chocolates and also a large space to play around. Piyush and Ravi wanted to have an Ice lolly from the nearby vendor and went outside and walked to the adjoining street, meanwhile forgetting about their younger brother who was still loitering across the Church compound. After they returned back to the Church, they were shocked to see that Anuj was nowhere to be found.They searched every nook and corner of the Church to find Anuj, but to no avail. Panicking, they ran outside screaming and then realised that their youngest brother got stuck in a manhole and was pleading for help.They weren’t equipped to handle a scenario like this, but with their quick presence of mind, they decided to split up; one went to back to their colony to seek help and call their parents, while the other decided to stay back and provide any possible assistance and support required to Anuj.

After a while the neighbours gathered and their father and mother were also informed, who rushed back from their workplaces to rescue their child. Anuj was finally rescued, and everyone was upset and tensed about this incident, except for Anuj who was too young to realise the magnitude of the entire incident.

Anuj who fell into the manhole

Anuj is the most notorious of the lot, you can easily be fooled by his innocence and charming smile. However he proudly holds the title of the single most ‘Troublemaker’ of the house.

Ravi is barely 10 years old and is the junior captain of the house. In these one and a half years, he has learnt to ignite the stove and heat milk for his younger siblings, although none of them like drinking milk. Most of the time, they borrow some money from their mother and buy packets of chips and eat them throughout the day and have a proper nutritious meal only in the night. Ravi hasn’t stepped into a school yet; he likes this life, but he wants to become a doctor. Although one might think that it’s possibly the lack of financial resources which is stopping them from going to school, one of the biggest roadblocks is the fact that none of them have their Aadhar Card or any identification card made.Their mother says that when the rolling process was being done, they couldn’t go back to their original village, and now its getting increasingly more difficult to get those cards made. However she plans on visiting her home village in a few days and trying to kickstart the process.

Ravi, Piyush and Anuj live a carefree life with minimum amount of responsibilities and absolutely no curriculum to follow in their lives, which most kids of their age do. In hindsight it might appear as a very luring scenario for the kids who are tired of following a school routine.But what may not be as obvious is that Ravi and his brothers are the millions of kids wh migrate with their families and are denied any basic educational facilities and then end up loosing their path in the Urban jungles. But something inside me gives me hope that they will end up going to school and make a better life for themselves for their siblings as well as parents.

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