I am yet to decide what is peculiar about her,the way she recites the english alphabet or the way she lovingly wipes the plants.She is 11 or maybe 12,is not sure,accompanies her mother every morning who works as a household help.
Often breaks into a quick jig with my toddler,and interestingly bends to scan the colourful newspaper supplements.The question today was sudden and left me blank,"didiji aapke paas itni kitaben kyo hai ?"
I gained composure and said "mujhe padhna acha lagta hai"
To which she said "mujhe bhi".
I asked her then,'why does you mom insist that you help her in her job?'
She replied like a seasoned cynical grandmother,"main kaam karti hoon tabhi mujhe sham ke school main padhne milta hai."
I couldn't say more and was left to delve deep inside.
I am guilty because despite the exploitation the child goes through i told myself she is lucky atleast they are sending her to school.
The next moment I hated myself for being part of a system where millions of children like her suffer quietly.Children whose every wish is pre-loaded with a dear price they pay.
Another day she told me that if she doesn't earn for the family in some way they will marry her off to anyone for a little financial help.
How easy it is then to talk about women empowerment in cosy living rooms or elite seminars and how difficult it is to really buy it for yourself?
Some of my learned friends once suggessted on something similar that its better to have children working rather than begging or prostituting.
So this is my salute to Anita ,and million daughters like her,who don't give up.who find a by-pass to our society's hypocrisy,who teach us to be thankful for the boons in our lives and inspire us to not to be blind to the naked truths.
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