On one fine winter morning,  the whole city was sleeping. It was still dark. Nothing was visible due to the dense fog that enveloped the environment. The doors and windows of all the houses were closed. There was no one on the road except a child who was about 11-12 years old, sitting in the shade of a tree. The tree was covered with due. The child covered himself with a woollen blanket and was shivering because of cold.

Just then a beam of yellow light slowly descended the slope. As it descended a faint shadow of a cuboid came into sight. Soon it got bigger and bigger and turned out to be a truck. As the truck reached the spot where the child was sitting, it stopped. The child stood up and a pile of newspapers was thrown out of the truck, by a man. Then the truck took a U-turn and slowly disappeared into the dense fog. He took the pile, counted the newspapers and put the papers on his head and started walking slowly. He went house to house throwing newspapers.

After distributing the newspapers, he looked around, the sun shone and the environment was less chilled now. The people also woke up, some were reading newspapers sitting in the courtyard drinking tea, while some were out for jogging in the nearby park. Some of them were chattering, while others were busy doing exercises. The child was walking slowly observing all this. When he heard a voice

Rahul, Come fast you fool!

I have so much work to do.”

As soon he heard the voice his pace increased and he walked straight to a tea stall. As soon as he reached there, he received a scolding from the man who was making tea. At once he went to clean the utensils. As he was cleaning the utensils, he saw a small girl of his age who came with her father to get some tea. She was wearing the uniform of a nearby school. Rahul looked at her for a moment and then resumed his work. He always dreamt of going to school but his family could not afford that.

After some time, when he finished his work he went to his master who gave him a bun and a cup of tea. As soon as he finished the breakfast, he cleaned his cup of tea, greeted his master, who handed him with a note of ₹20. He looked at that note, thanked his master and started running. He stopped at a medical shop, bought some medicines and again started running. He lost his breath, so stopped for a moment and again started running. Finally, he stopped in front of a house. It was poorly built. He knocked the door and then went inside.

The door opened into a small room which was poorly built, the paint on the walls chipped. Plaster at some places was also ruined. There was a small partition on one side, the other side of the partition was built into a kitchen. There was a window which was closed and in the middle of the room, a bed was kept. On the bed, a lady was lying, covered in a blanket. He went straight to the bed, kept the medicines aside, removed the blanket from the lady’s face and found her sleeping. He put his hand on the lady’s forehead to check fever. Then he went to the kitchen on the other side of the partition and cooked some tea and took a chapatti from a tiffin. With this, he went to the bed and woke up the lady saying “Maa, see what have I got”. Hearing this the lady woke up and smiled. He helped her to sit and gave her the chapatti and tea. She happily drank the tea, meanwhile, Rahul broomed the floor. When she finished her breakfast, he took the glass from her and gave her some water to take medicines. She took the medicines and kissed his forehead.

What’s the story Rahul? What circumstances forced him to go to work at such an early age?

To be continued….

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