An open letter of a lost childhood By Lalrengpuii

“Child labour is a crime against humanity. Humanity itself is at stake here” – Nobel laureate
Kailash Satyarthi. The quotation defines child labour in the most accurate way with
encompassing the depth of the horrific practice in the human society. Child labour is
something that we all have witnessed, but only few of us ever acted against it. In the
campaign against child labour, I started with my conversation with child labour to seven-
eight people and I met a person now a thirty year old carpenter who was once sold by his
father from Nagaland to Mizoram when he was fourteen year old, keeping all the responses
in mind along with the main emphasis of the carpenter experience, I am putting the reflection
of my conversation in the form of a fictional letter written by a boy John to his father who
sold him to a middleman in Delhi with exuberant dreams and hopes.

To Dad
With l̶o̶v̶e̶ despair,
I know you didn’t expect to hear from me anytime soon, after the unthinkable deed that you
did. But what to do life doesn’t give us a choice to choose our parents and name but it does
give us a chance to change our destiny. I deserved a chance to fill the blank canvas of my
destiny filled with fondest, innocent, joyous, colours of childhood, but you filled my canvas
with catastrophic pitch-black forced precocious labourer. The destiny that I wanted to pave
with my educational footsteps, not with burnt footsteps caused by glass furnaces with high
temperatures.

I was sold the dreams of a stature as tall as Qutub Minar, a new experience as happening as
India Gate on Sundays and An exuberant life as luxurious as Lutyens’ Delhi, but I received
the reality of dingy cells without air and light. I was called a bright-eyed but now my eyes are
more adjusted to the dark than to the light outside. I was promised that I will be enrolled in a
prestigious school with a comprehensive learning space, but I was forced into a learning
space with crumbling walls, convulsing doors, no windows, crowded with children and
animals coexisting in a primeval state. My living space is between choked garbage’s and
pungent smell far from the comfortable and hygienic hostel I was promised. I miss the
warmth of home, the cold Chapati and salt at least I was eating then in bright sunlight
compared to eating rice and a curry in which vegetables are as visible as happiness in flames
of flickering oil lamps in dark hutments.

I still have hope of a life where I will get freedom from the web of poverty burdened by the
bonded labour, (but for that I will require the efforts of each and every one of you to raise
awareness against child labour and to ensure that every child deserves a childhood not slave
hood) But till then my dreams looms like a mirage amidst the dust of streets that fill Old
Delhi.

Speak to you s̶o̶o̶n̶ never,
John.

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