One day I was travelling from Pune to Mumbai via a bus. I was very excited about my impending trip and started to daydream. No sooner did I put my headphones for listening to the music than experienced a hard jerk. All the passengers got perturbed by this sudden bump in middle of the highway. After enquiring we got to know that the rear tyre of the bus was punctured. As there was no way that the tyre could have been repaired at that moment and location, conductor told that we need to take a lift from another bus. Listening to this, all of us got frantic with worry.

After waiting for a while, conductor made one bus to stop but it was a non-ac bus in pathetic condition. We were fine with it as reaching the destination on time was more essential. All passengers grabbed their seats quickly. When I entered the bus there were hardly any vacant seats. I stood next to a seat for support with my backpack. There was a girl around 10 years of age sitting with her little brother not more than 6 years old. Both wore filthy clothes. I did not find their parents or any elder person with them. After the bus started, the bus conductor came and scolded those 2 unkempt kids to get up. He then asked me to sit on that seat. This action of conductor really irked me. Looking at my disappointed expression, he said, “it’s okay madam, they will get down at nearby stop”. I asked the girl to shift a bit and asked the little boy to sit on my lap. He refused to sit and went next to the conductor’s seat. The girl gave a big sheer smile for letting her to have seat and started to talk. She asked where I was going and also that she liked my muffler. I answered her and asked the same question to her as I was curious to know where they were travelling alone.

Shocked I got when I heard
That they were returning from some work
Why still children are labored
Why such an offence in lurk?
Ashamed of such practice in the country
As harmful it is for their development
Lack of education and full of poverty
Where is the government and for what are they meant?

I was quiet and lost in thoughts. After sometime, the little girl poked me and said bye with an innocent smile as her stop had arrived. I forgot to ask her name and bid her adieu. I wished to talk to her more.

Each year on 12 June, the World Day brings people from around the world to highlight the plight of child labourers. The child labour law has banned employment of children below 14 years old. Those people must be punished who allow and force child labour to make as well as save money. Also the parents who send their children for work instead of educating and nurturing them. There are a lot of NGOs that definitely make us proud. They are doing a great job with great care.

Though people have become alert and today’s generation are trying to avoid such ill-practices to continue yet thousands of children are still slaved and maltreated. This custom can be brought to an end only when everyone thinks the same way and throw such practice out of our society.

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