(This was written by me quite some time back but still holds true hence thought share it with you all)
It was first Saturday of August of year 2004, time when Bhopal is at its best, with little drops drizzling on my body, cool breeze touching you and I was at Bittan market haat - a weekly vegetable market that caters to upper end clients from Arera colony and nearby areas for providing vegetables at comparatively competitive price. It had been raining on and off in Bhopal last week, so bittan market too had itsshare of water and filth within which was the buzz vegetable market. It was notan easy time to sell vegetable. Vegetables prices had shoot up; the market only had vegetables from nearby Bhopal that could make up there. It is here one meets Nadeem, whose is next to his father selling vegetables.Nadeem studies in class fifth (though he should be in much higher class but maybe joined school late) In the evening on haat days he is next to his father witha separate column on the haat lane. He gets an additional independent space,next to his father. Nadeem does not want to sell vegetables all his life hewants to grow up and work in office. He has his own ambition. He too wants toplay and enjoy like other kids do and not be in this place selling vegetables.But it is the lure of extra income to poor family plus ‘it is better ratherthan roaming around’ adds his father. In Bittan market one can find many children having separate space or column normally next to their parents. This not only works as an extra hand for parents, but an additional income for the family. Though an extra space means extra 23 rupees per day (Rs 15 for lights, Rs 4 for the corporation and few rupees for tea)additional income is what these poor parents look for. For some like Rohit,who is just four years old sitting next to her mother selling vegetable it isalso a matter for survival. His father had lost the job while her mother wasselling vegetables and feeding her one-year-old child and next to her was rohitwho was having simple chapati as his dinner and simultaneously selling veggies.In addition to Rohit, Nadeem there are young ones like Suraj who roam around and sell lemons in bittan.
In bittan market young boys, who even have mastered art ofnegotiations, mainly sell lemons. Suraj normally fetches about Rs 50 /60 eachtime haat is there, helps him get extra buck part of which also goes to hisfamily another part to his fulfill some of his own wishes. But problems comeswhen it rains they do not have shed, they either use a polybag or piece of bagto hide under it but have to sell vegetables, which are perishable in nature.One has to sell it off or else end of day end up making loss instead of profit. Rohit Nadeem and Suraj are still lucky ones from out of the lot but for Kanchanand Rajni whose parents do not have shop here but these children beg for money /vegetables and take home whatever they can. These little girls even do not study in school. It is at these markets they get to earn a bit.
Children like Rohit, Nadeem, Kanchan and Rajni do add to income of theirrespective families but they loose what other children get - time to be ontheir own, be in their own age, play and grow instead growing up fast and learnselling, and end up loosing what is said to be their own their own Bachpan -which once gone cannot come back in life… They have their own little dreams in their eyes, many of them may not want tosell vegetable but may have ambition to work in office but there is another bigquestion of an opportunity, an opportunity to study, opportunity to grow,opportunity to get jobs and the list is long one … or else they would end updoing what their parents are doing and will never be able to reach the dreamwhich these little eyes fantasize…
- anil gulati
(The views expressed in this article are personal opinions of the contributor)