Rolling out the Red Carpet

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Slumdog Paupers

With a single child, I keep on Chinese style family. Even though he is up and over eleven, I consider boys in all age clusters as my own sons. Not just that, as a concerned citizen, and what I have demonstrated in my writing work, I pin great hopes on the younger generation that will steer Pakistan out of the turmoil. Although in the post 9/11 era, religious fanatics have made human life worth nothing, I weep tears of bereavement on every death that any blast causes.

Many a time my son, Muaaz, feels lonely perhaps owing to being single. To counter this, every weekend either we drop him at his friend’s place or his friend spends the whole day with him at our place.

Only two weeks ago, after the dinner we (my wife and I) left Muaaz at his friend’s place and both of us decided to have after-dinner walk. We had hardly crossed over a busy road junction, that we heard a sound of a big bag flung by a high-geared Hi-ace van. Initially we thought that it was a vegetable bag but soon heard loud cries of a child. I leapt into the hustling traffic and picked the poor soul up. It was about a ten year old boy shrieking with pain. I laid him down on the side walk to have a random assessment of his injuries and found capacious scratches on his body and obviously their pain was unbearable. Being a sensitive person and an emotional father myself, I started crying too. We made a brief investigation about the boy and the van driver that threw him amid heavy traffic and opted for his one year older brother. To my dismay, the van driver was a child abuser and the boy was being sexually abused. Full of rage we decided to visit the parents of the boy and go at it tooth and nail. Carrying the boy in my arms and following his directions, I started walking towards his home. The boy seemed thin but was heavy. After some half a kilometer, we eventually reached boy’s home.

We entered through the door straight into a small open space of the house. The boy went into his 2 ft x 4 ft room—perhaps an abandoned bathroom turned bedroom. We later discovered that the boy and his elder brother (around 11 years of age) lived in that room. An old lady looked at us queerly. “Where are the parents of this boy?” I asked. Without waiting for the reply, I shouted with my dander up and vociferated, “Why the hell they raised this child and junked him in streets?” “Where are they?” Scared of my shouting, perhaps, the boy stopped crying, but his tears continued rolling down his skinny face.

The old lady was visibly upset. She assumed that the boy must have done some deviltry and we were hence visiting their place with some complaint. Trembling with mixed feelings of rage and fear, looking up the sky she said, “Liberate me of this miserable life, O God!” “These two boys have made this world hell for me. I am his luckless granny – has he once again done any mischief?”

I repeated, “Where are his stony-hearted parents?” Rubbing her eyes welled up with tears, she said, “His father succumbed to cancer and died a premature death at thirty, and—and his mother abandoned these two kids and married another man.”

The old woman later led us to the room that had a low quality and tottered sofa, a clock with wrong side out, a crumbling cot and, and damaged split A/C. This room depicted the underprivileged class of the slumdog paupers.

The old woman called her married daughters from the rooms on the right, left and top so that they might also listen what the new complaint I had brought about those slumdogs. Possibly most fashionable in their social class one girl spoke broken English. When I told them about the accident and the serious injuries that the little boy had succumbed, instead of demonstrating any concern they started scolding him. They did not even allow me to take him for the first aid. While the old woman was talking to us unceasing streams of tears were flowing over our cheeks.

The old woman, backed up by her daughters, asked us to help her grandsons admitted at some hostel or asylum.

During our stay at that wretched home, like any suffering dog the ill-fated boy kept on licking his wounds and imbibing his blood.

While I investigated about the probable asylum, I could not find any that could satisfy me to admit sons. Little or much all asylums have some sort of corruption. As social responsibility and for safeguarding and promoting welfare I am only ensuring child protection. This implies activity that is undertaken to protect specific children who are suffering, or are at risk of suffering, and significant harm. I hope to succeed in this epic cause.

This incident pushed us into depression and insomnia for a few days thinking that when these two boys would have born, their parents must have been very happy. The father of the boys must have dreamt high about their future. With the death of the father all such dreams smoked off. The mother found a new man to give birth to other children of darkness . . . . .