Angels exist. Believe me! In times of despair, they have descended upon us without fail. They are not the winged creatures that fairy tales are made of. They look just like you or me. We had one descend on us yesterday to save the dreams and morrows of our little ones and ensure that they remain safe. Every morning, 35 children from the most deprived homes wait for our three wheeler to arrive and ferry them to project why. They remain there till 4 pm when they are ferried back to their homes. For a few hours they regain their right to be children. They laugh, sing, learn, play. They do what children are meant to do. Sometimes they even to to a park or for an outing as they did some time back when another Angel dropped by and took the out for a treat.
In the time they spend with us in our creche, sometimes 2 to 3 years, they prepare for school and learn their alphabet, their numbers, their rhymes and songs. They learn to hold a pencil, to sit a a desk and to share with others. It is always a delight to stop by and spend some time with them. It lifts you out of the darkest mood without fail.
A few months back we are informed that a large chunk of our monthly donation would be cut, force majeure of course, and we were at our wits end to figure out how we would carry on. As always, it is the weakest who faces the axe, and it was decided that, if the need arose, then we would have to close the creche. Post that decision, I found myself avoiding the creche as I could not face the little eyes that always look at me with the deepest trust.
So I did what I do best and what has always worked. I took to my pen (or rather my keyboard) and poured my heart out. I also turned to the God of Lesser beings, begging for a miracle. The days passed. Then one fine day Angel no 1 appeared and told me that things would work out. She set to task and ferreted Angel no 2 who came with his invisible magic wand and showered invisible dust. My babies were safe.
I think I need to tell you what the plight of children like these is. They come from extremely poor families, often of migrant labour where the father earns a daily wage and the mother struggles to survive. Sometimes she would turn to brewing hooch to bring a little relief tot her loved ones. The father is often a drunk and thus the situation is precarious not to mention the violence that accompanies the bottle. The house, if one can call it that, is actually a damp hole often surrounded by factories that spew smoke and vile discharges that flow in the drain next to the house. The home is so small that children are pushed out and condemned to play in the filthy and insalubrious surroundings, or the busy road where car and track fumes abound. Far too often the drains are blocked and what goes for a playground is covered in drain water. Yet children play there all the time. Is this what India's capital city has on offer for its tiniest inhabitants?
I sometimes or rather too often wish that I had sufficient resources to reach out to every child in need, but alas even protecting my 35 is sometimes a challenge.
Today is children's day. Maybe we should remember the children who have been let down by all of us.