Monday, November 15, 2010

Daydreaming on Children's Day

Yesterday, India celebrated Children's day and the papers this morning were filled with pictures and articles of competitions and activities organised for children by various groups. It was a good way to remember our first Prime Minister and also to celebrate the joy that children bring to our lives and community. I remember at school, Childrens Day was the day of the fancy dress competition followed by the rest of the day off (which was the best part!). So this morning as I read through the newspapers, my mind took off on a train of thought starting from the fun days of my own childhood and then moving on to the uplifting joy some of the dear children I had interacted with recently had brought to me. How wonderful childhood is. And how special for children to be brought up in a home where God is given the central place.....

And that would have been the end of my remembrance of Childrens Day, but for 2 gentle reminders that came during the day. The first was when I watched the movie August Rush. Having set for myself a strict schedule during this time (which I am often unable to follow!), I had not watched a movie for a long time and was complaining as such to my mother. So she in her kindness, rustled up this movie from a friend and by coincidence I watched it today. It is the moving story of a young boy who is separated from his parents at birth and grows up in an orphanage. Running away from there at around 12, he settles into a life on the street with a group of other children who play music in parks to enrich the pockets of the 'Wizard'. As all good movies should, this one has a fairytale ending, but for me, it was a clear reminder of the one-sidedness of my morning's daydream. The childhood I had and that most of the children I know have is by no means a universal reality. For some, childhood is a story of abandonment, loneliness and despair....

And when I began my computer time for the day, the first article that caught my eye was this one, a story of the children who do not have the luxury of a holiday on Children's Day. The ones who will not take part in any fancy dress or painting competition. The ones who spend Children's Day working for their daily bread, just like every other day of the year. Doing menial labour, often in conditions unfit even for an adult.

I did not do too much more reading today. I had a darker daydream to match the thunder and rain outside. As my mind saw the children to whom life has dealt a different hand than mine. The boy in the dhabha who clears away the plates. The girl on the road selling jasmine flowers. The boy at the traffic signal who wants to wipe your windscreen. The girl at the railway station begging for alms. The boy in the cracker factory slaving away in inhuman conditions. The girl sold to a madam at the age of 12.... Sold to a life of unimaginable trauma.

We live in a country where these little ones are everywhere. And yet, I find it so easy to forget them. To push them to the back of my mind, from where they will find it difficult to trouble me with their memory. Rather, I rationalise. I say that I, with so little time and resources, can do nothing. And so I assuage my guilt.

Dear Lord, I am guilty. Forgive me. And show me how I can show Your love in some small way to these dear little ones. Whom You love as much as You love me

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