Child labour- not a much-discussed topic it is. I myself never cared much about this topic until very recently I heard the tale of Hasan. The very scary situation of children in the world are enough to bring tears to your eyes.
Hasan was one such young boy who unfortunately fell into this trap of child labour. He lived in a Garhwal village along with his little sister, mother and father. His mother had been bedridden since his birth and his father- Hasan’s father had lost both of his eyes and was not physically fit to work. Hasan and his little sister ran the family- even though his sister was only ten years old, she ran errands for the house. Hasan studied till third standard, for his father could not bear the sum of money required for his studies. He was compelled to worked at a nearby cinema hall. But, perhaps Hasan was born with an ill-fate. The cinema hall soon closed and Hasan had to search for another job to keep his family pot boiling.
“Dada, what are you thinking to do now. We are done with this month’s ration” said Shruti in dismay while scouring the rice tin. There were only four-three grains left.
“I’ll go to the plains and send you money. Don’t worry, little sister” Hasan gave her some hope.
“That means well never see you again?”
“Money is now more important than me, girl. If the ration gets fully over, father will start worrying. Also, don’t say anything to them. Tell them that I have got a nearby twenty-four hours job”.
The next day, Hasan was up early. When his mother and father had not been up, he quickly dressed up in his good clothes, and went to catch the bus.
“Keep sending letters” Taniya said as tears streamed down her red cheeks. The entire household was upon her.
“I’ll do. Take care of them and you also take care. Don’t cry, girl”
With this he wended his way down the hill station to the bus stop. The sun cast a luminous glow and the dust were scalding. Hasan had a good shirt on- a cherry red shirt which was gifted by his father when he could work.
The bus treaded along the hill slope. The dust fluttered in the air, and the sun rays were thrown right on him. The mountains bid a goodbye to her son, but Hasan was not in sync with the mountains. He was as hungry as nobody- he could think of nothing else. For once, he thought what would happen if mother came to knew and for once he wondered what job he has scribed in his fate.
The sun had plunged behind the clouds and the bus trembled to a stop. He had never before gone to a city and so, when he landed there, his heart was stabbing hard in nervousness. He was totally blank.
He spent the whole night on the roadside. At night, it was biting cold. But Hasan had no choice rather than sleeping on the roads.
In the morning, Hasan had to wake up early to go in search of job. In the market, Hasan befriended a young boy. He was sure that the young boy would help him get a job.
“You can work with me” suggested the young boy.
“Suraj, where do you work?”
“In the hot mines”
“Oh, we can find lots of gold and diamond there!”
“I searched, but never found one”
“I’ll find and then I’ll take you along with and eat lots of foods!” Hasan was too excited, but he was far to see the real world.
Hasan was assigned his work. As a young boy, he would not do any mining or whatever, but go down ten miles deep in the mine and supply water and food to the miners. It was no less work. He was fastened by a strong rope by his waist- when he went down, the rope would cave in in his stomach and after that he would have deep distinct lines inscribed.
“Why are you not going deeper, boy! Do your job properly or else I’ll throw you right away!” shouted his master.
“I’ll go. It’s very hot and my skin burns like sun.”
“This is your job little bastard!”
“Master, can I ask you one thing?”
“Tell, tell” the master said hurriedly. He was indifferent.
“Do I get gold and diamonds in the mines?”
“If you work hard, you’ll get sacks of them”
Hasan was optimistic. He worked with enthusiastic and vigour. After, he came out, he looked all black. He would be covered with ashes and soot. And, certainly, inside the hot mines, he had to hold up his breath for minutes so that he was sheltered of the lethal gases. But he was compelled to land on the fire, to secure some money for his family up in the mountains.
He did scour for the golds and diamonds, but he did not find any- not even one. But he still had his hope and he still has. Maybe with that hope, though he can not find any pot of gold or diamond, he gets some rupees to send to his family.