Reading gave her imagination wings. She would read about fancy food, fancy clothing, corporate lifestyle, expensive tastes and everything oh so sophisticated. She would dream of a luxurious way of life, breathtaking libraries and travelling the world. Far away from the harsh realities of this brutal world, she nurtured her dreams in a protected cocoon.

This ‘she’ may be found in each one of us. Don’t we all keep our little bundles of hopes and desires closely knit in our hearts?

As I walk down the kaccha road in Roopangarh in Rajasthan , hopping over mounds of cowdung, stones, gutter waste and lost slippers, I’m constantly thinking of catching the first train home. I can’t take the sand, stench, heat and bad hygiene anymore. I shouldn’t push myself so much.

But her favorite characters never gave up. How could she? Her books were her source of strength and the characters her friends.

While I sit in a cyber cafe, waiting for the printer to pick some speed, I see her.


Her innocent and hopeful glare takes me off guard. And swiftly, she looks away. The look in her eyes raises many emotions in me, anger and sadness being the most dominant.

Would she ever be permitted to dream?

Would she ever be able to go to a school?

Read and imagine things?

Have favorite characters she can gain strength from?

Sleep peacefully every night on a full stomach?

The number of street children in India is staggering high. More than half of them are laborers. Over 35% of them are dealing with different kinds of abuses.

I know this. We all know this. But do we spare a moment’s thought to them?


Do we try to do something?


I could only offer her food. I hope to do something more.

Her glare will remain with me for a very long time.

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