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Labouring Under Child Labour

A child is born out of labour.
A child is sent to school
And made to recognise
Read, recite, and write
Draw, count, and play.
The child undergoes labour
In all these movements
Of mind and limb
Whether he likes it or not.

If a child learns too fast
And sets a precocious record
In his studies or GK
Or in singing or dancing
Or in acting or in a sport
You laud him as a prodigy.

A school child is made
To work or wait for hours
Under the scorching sun
For a political or governmental event
With no snacks or water
Whether he like it or not.
It’s civic training,
Practicals of theory,
Shrama daan (labour of love)
Of the citizen tomorrow’s.
So catch them young!

If a child wants to be free
In this free country
From loads of books
And exams of rote
And play in the lap of nature
Like a fawn or a cub
And begin to study life
In the open school
And learn the letters
Of the art of living
And helps himself
And his parents too
By willingly working as a help
And earns a few dimes
To drive the wolf
Away from the door
And survive
In the rat race of this world –
No, he isn’t allowed.
It’s child’s labour
A cognisable offence!

The child with a silver spoon
In his mouth
Who labours with his mind
Is hailed with accolades
And promoted by sponsors
And reaps golden harvests.

The child with a pewter spoon
In his mouth
Who labours with his hands
Is called child labour
And rudely snapped
From his patrons
Who are raided, reviled, and punished.

And the tear-dried starveling
Is left in the lachrymose lurch and
Heartlessly denied his only honest means
Of keeping body and soul together.

[May 15,2009: : Hyderabad - 500 056]

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