Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pedalling Progress...

A typical scene in suburban Mumbai, captured by my blogger friend Magiceye. A young girl, possibly,  temporarily the head of a family, taking over the childcare, shopping and household work, lugging kerosene cans to the Ration shop, while her parents, are off to work, possibly at a new construction site.

Rampant construction in Mumbai has resulted in bringing in cheap labour from the rural areas, and entire families have moved. In the meanwhile, in rural areas near Satara, in Maharashtra, and some places in Bihar, young girls who were pressed for time attending rural schools miles away while doing their household duties, are being given free bicycles under some schemes and encouraged to attend school. 

You win some. You lose sum.  And some simply bypass a childhood, wistfully watching, what could have been .....

Life is
about choosing
between a fourth wall
a ceiling,
a crying baby sibling
and making chapati dough,
while your parents work overtime
at a posh
contsruction project.

Life is about
a childhood
accelerated into puberty,
as she stays home
to cook,
wash clothes,
queue up for kerosene,
ignore fights,
and look after
her brother,
the star member.

While her girlfriends
in her village
now get free cycles
to attend the school
5 kilometres away,
she trudges by,
carrying the young brother
through the potholes of life
so one day,
he too can cycle by
like this,
in style....


  1. poignant.. Beautifully expressed.

    1. Thank you. The photograph was the inspiration....

  2. You have summed up the abject poverty of the girl child in every respect. She doesn't even have the rights to her own life.

    1. USP, Thank you. So many families dependent on such prematurely old little girls, because there is no work back home. If the only remembered primary education instead of JEE.....

  3. Suranga, I have added the link to this one too in my post. So pertinent and so abject. The words are too powerful and heart-wrenching.

    1. Zephyr, Thank you for adding a link to this in your post . The visual is just too powerful, in the face of what is happening today; Primary education in rural areas in doldrums, and the powers that be seized with the number of exams you must give to join IIT's . And this rampant construction in big cities...One sees girls like these all the time.

  4. You've converted an ordinary photo into a powerful thought. Very beautifully written.

  5. Magiceye's photo and your poetry complements each other so well. What a powerful piece!!! You both honor the unhonored, the unnoticed, the invisible, the unvoiced so well. Kudos to you both!!!

  6. I agree with bhavana! Your post poignantly captures the story of so many poor girls who lose their childhood when they are forced to grow up too soon.

  7. just amazing ... this is the story at almost all construction sites ... makes you feel sad . Hoping things change and I am positive things will change :)