Saturday, August 24, 2013

Kids, I've learnt this from you "Self-Pride even during times of adversity"

Hmm.. talking of Andhra and Child Labor...

The PG accommodation I stayed before this one, was run by Reddy Gaarus.  Now one thing I hate about them (though I owe them big time for the amazing pappu dal and spicy gonkura chutney) is that they employ kids as bonded labors -pay their parents a meager amount every year and bring the kids to work for them, at the PG accommodation.

My stomach used to crunch every time I saw these cute kids Venki, Prasanna and Seenu clean my room, wash all the soiled dishes, or cut vegetables at 5 in the morning and they're not even half my age!

Luckily, there were other friends of mine at the PG who sympathized with them as well, and together we wanted to make a difference in their profane lives.  We thought it would be best to pool in some money and send them to a nearby government school.  So, we call the kids one day to my room and tell them this, assuming the kids would love this idea.  BUT..

All three of them NOD and say no.. They don't want to go to a school.  They're happy with the meager 100 bucks our owner gave them.  But why?  They won't give me an answer but its a firm no and the owner is already screaming their names at the top of her voice and they make a dash outside to answer her call.

Two days later, I try convincing them again, saying I would talk the owner, how education was important, how getting a decent job once they complete school would mean a lot. But NO.. either my convincing skills were bad or the kids had a solid reason to say NO..

This left me thinking as to what might be the actual reason they refused.

Reason #1:  The kids are too scared of the owner.  I once heard of the story when one of these kids tried finding another job outside and got a whacking on the ear, from the owner.  :(

Reason #2:  Our PG was the ONLY place they knew in Bangalore.  They'd never been to the park two streets away.  Maybe its like in the movie "Shawshank Redemption" where this old guy Brooks is freed on parole, but unable to adjust to the outside world after 50 years in prison hangs himself.  Similarly, maybe its the fear of facing the world that made them say No.. 

Reason #3:  Self-pride.  I'm a little inclined to this one, because I have my own reasons!  I started getting "5 Star" bars for the youngest kid - Seenu, everyday when I came back from office.  The first day he took it from me ecstatically.  The second day with a smile.  The third day was a bit reluctant but it took it from me after I forced him to.  The fourth day, he sternly refused.  I was a little taken aback but did notice the self-pride in the child.  That night I narrated the incident to Pragna, my roomie, and she goes "Oh yeah.. these kids have a lot of self-pride. They would rather work and earn the 100 bucks they get from our owner, rather than get anything for free - be it a 5 Star or education for that matter!".   

Whatever be the reason(s), their self-pride and never die spirits were actually inspiring.  They worked all day and still laughed a lot, always were cheerful and I loved their daily "Akka, ee roju office lo enti visheshalu.. Annam thinnara akka?" (Pardon me if my Telugu is incorrect!)  Maybe there was lots apart from education taught in schools, that I needed to learn from them - How to stay cheerful even in times of adversity definitely being one of them.

I don't see the kids anymore after I left the PG, but I think of them often.  I seriously wish their lives improved, and they continued to smile and stay their cheerful selves.  Love you and miss you Venki, Prasanna and Seenu!


P.S: I still don't think refusing education by guarding your self-pride was a right thing.  I honestly wish the guys studied.  But what resulted out of the whole thing, was me loving their never-say-die attitude, their tenacity and me learning always to smile, in whichever situation I might be.