For urbanites living in big cities life revolves mostly around workplace and family. Due to work pressure even the family gets neglected at times. In such a situation where is the time to look around trying to delve into the lives of others around you? However , destiny has its own ways and sometimes you become the tool rather than a controller. I narrate an incidence which made me a medium for bringing about a turning point in someone’s life.
One day I was returning home as usual after from office. It was around 7.00pm when suddenly my car broke down. I brought the car to a side and contacted a car helpline company. With these car helpline companies around life has become much easier to encounter these kind of situations. I was informed that I would have to wait for around twenty minutes before their mechanic arrived. Well there was no option but to wait . I was lost in thought about one thing or the other when there was a knock on the window pane. It was one of those street urchins begging for alms. Normally I would shoo away such creatures but the sad look in the boy’s eyes held me back. He was about ten years of age with dishevelled hair , wearing frayed and torn clothes. Children of his age from any middle class family would be studying in a school leaving it to their parents for meeting their other requirements. But here was this boy struggling for his survival at such an early age .
I decided to give the boy a packet of biscuit which was there in the car. There was a smile on his face on seeing the biscuit packet. He stood at some distance munching the biscuits. Probably he had not eaten anything for quite some time. “What is your name”, I asked? “Dinesh” was the meek reply. “Where do you live?”. He pointed at some shacks at some distance. Through the small conversation I had with him it transpired that Dinesh had a number of siblings. Like him , his other brothers and sisters earned their livelihood through begging. Despite the day’s hard work there would not be enough to feed everyone. Consequently they would never have a full stomach and were perpetually hungry.
For the poor, children are a means of livelihood as they are made to earn through menial jobs for increasing the family’s earnings. There is no expenditure on their education as the need for education is not felt. For them it is a question of survival. But for middle class parents like us a child is a question of affordability. No wonder the poor have large families compared to those who are economically better off. For this reason the developed countries of the world have much lesser population compared to not so developed countries.
Any nation’s strength depends upon the percentage of its population which is educated. But in the less developed nations around the world the poor’s strive for survival does not permit them to educate their children . Thus poverty , illiteracy and large population of a less developed nation are cogs of a vicious circle as one leads to the other.
“Would you like to go to school?” I asked Dinesh . For a moment there was a spark in his eyes which soon disappeared. “ My parents would not allow me” was the despondent reply. Anyways , I decided to give it a try. He took me to the shacks where his parents lived. Seeing Dinesh with a stranger his parents glared at him for loitering during work time and looked at me with suspicion. I told his parents that I meant no harm . My purpose of coming to them was to get their consent for educating Dinesh. They impulsively disagreed. It took a lot of persuasion in convincing them about the benefits of educating their child. Did they not wish to emerge from this sub human situation. Educating one child would benefit the entire family and help them to overcome their poverty. “ But where is the money to educate our children ?”they enquired. I told them that I was willing to meet Dinesh’s expenditure on his education provided they would allow him to study and not compel him for begging. After some thought the parents finally acquiesced though the element of suspicion remained. So that settled it. Dinesh was to go with me to a nearby school for admission. I would pay his school fees directly to the school. I would get him the books and also arrange for his school uniform. I did not agree to give the money for Dinesh’s requirements to his parents as I knew that they would fritter away the money in meeting their other requirements.
Next morning after informing my office that I would be somewhat late for work I picked up Dinesh and took him to the school. The spark in his eyes had returned though their was a look of apprehension on his face. I told him that there was no reason to worry and he should look forward and welcome the new opportunity that awaited him.
As expected the Principal was some what reluctant to give admission to a street urchin apprehending objection by the other children and their parents. Again , I had to remind the Principal that educating children was not only his professional but a moral responsibility as well. Finally he acquiesced on the condition that Dinesh should have a good conduct . If he found the boy having bad habits and not showing any interest in studies then the school would not be able to continue him.
The first few days were hard for Dinesh as both the students as well as teachers looked down upon him. But even I did see the inherent talent of this street urchin. Dinesh ignored the scornful looks of those around him and focused on his studies. He was used to being scoffed at while begging on the streets. With a little guidance from me he was quick to grasp concepts and expressed himself well in the class.His interest in academics helped him to make a mark for himself in the class and earn admiration of both the teachers and the students.
When I last met Dinesh in his school premises I found an air of confidence and a spark in his eyes which I had seen momentarily when I met him for the first time on the streets begging for alms.
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