An old weighing scale, probably rusted; a mat; notebooks and pencil: That’s what she carries everyday when she leaves home for school at 8 in the morning. As the school bell rings at 2 in the afternoon, all the kids run towards the gate barging each other. She is calm. She wouldn’t run. She has a brunt on her shoulder; not of the weighing scale but of her siblings, her senescent mother. So she can’t afford even a single scratch on the scale lest she falls. She marches to the same spot she’s been sitting on for last 4 months, earning whatever she could with that old machine. She sits on the mat she brings with her and keeps the weighing scale in front of her. Her elder brother sells balloons. At 9 in the night he picks her up and both of them return home.
This is her routine. She didn’t choose her life to be this way. She has dreams. But she cannot curse fate for where she is. In fact she’s glad that her destiny isn’t worse than this girl she was friends with, who was abducted and never made her way back home.
She sits beside her weighing scale and finishes her homework whenever she is free. She is dedicated to studies. Some days she would see customers, some days she wouldn’t. Strange gazes caught her, some of pity and some of sympathy. Some try to help her by offering food. She doesn’t like to accept offers for free, for that makes her feel like a beggar which she doesn’t approve of. She may not have money but she has self-esteem. Sometimes she has to keep her dignity aside for the sake of her family. So she keeps the offerings. But ever since her father abandoned the family she has promised to herself that she will stand on her feet to see her family in a position better than ever.
Apart from pity and sympathy, she receives gazes of lust as well. Shady lechers would pass by, sometimes even brushing up against her. She’s 12 years old but is mature enough to perceive the secret abductions going on. “Who knows what’s on the other side of this veil of expressions the random strangers have covered their faces with”, she thinks. Is there a cliff of ‘child labour’ one can be pushed off to? Or even a worse trap from which one is never coming back?” She’s alert and conscientious. That’s all what she can be. Life’s not easy. But she has faith that one morning when she wakes up, this routine of hers will end forever.
This is not just her story. A huge population is vulnerable to poverty and illiteracy. Many kids are under the risk of child trafficking, child labour and sexual abuse. Unless an effort is made to educate them and spread awareness, they will continue to suffer due to their state of naiveté.