THE SMELL OF INK

With grease on his pudgy little hands, sweat pouring down his burning neck, brows furrowed in innocent concentration he toils endlessly, not knowing any other world but the one, where working is the sole palpable reality. The excitement children of his age feel when being promoted to using a pen he has never known. He isn’t even aware of a thing called education. All he is aware of is his master’s hand hovering inches away from his skin eager to feel his body tremble. What is excitement? What is happiness? What is love? He has never heard of them. He is a child. He can’t find the penny he just dropped. He is a slave. He can’t find his childhood. We say that the country is free, the citizens are free, we sit and talk, while the child of our maid cleans the floor. Maybe not in our home, but in million others. There are thousands of children working throughout the world. Whether they are sweating in the heat of stone quarries, working in the fields sixteen hours a day, picking rags in city streets, or hidden away as domestic servants, these children endure miserable and difficult lives. They earn little and are abused much. They struggle to make enough to eat and perhaps to help feed their families as well. They do not go to school; more than half of them will never learn the basic skills of literacy. Many of them have been working since the age of four or five, and by the time they reach adulthood they may be irrevocably sick or deformed-they will certainly be exhausted, old men and women by the age of forty, likely to be dead by fifty. This labor of children is internationally not acceptable and considered exploitative if the work harms the children´s physical or mental health, is dangerous or harmful or keeps them away from education. Everyone has the right to life. No one can be held as a slave. Every child has the right to education. But these rights remain only on paper. Hundreds of children work under atrocious conditions everywhere- exploited by their employers and tortured. Most of the children are not even aware of their rights, and even if they do know, it’s not as if those little angels can fight the giants. Not only does child labor entail a violation and denial of human rights on countless fronts, it also poses a hindrance for development. The inter-linkages of child labor with poverty and education explain the development challenge that it poses. Poverty has often been considered the key reason for the perpetuation of child labor. However, child labor is the primary cause of poverty, as it pushes children early to premature work thereby denying children the opportunity to acquire the education and skills they need to obtain decent work and incomes as adults. A child should laugh, a child should enjoy but these children have never been allowed to live. Instead of ink-stained hands, these children have torn and bleeding bodies. The pure soul of a child labor is not left unblemished. Forget the future, where is their present? They are starving because hunger is just too hungry. They are crying without tears, water is scarce after all. They are like zombies, doomed to walk the earth without any feelings because if they feel, their feelings will crush them. They are dead souls in living bodies, dreading each moment to come. Because people are just blind. Dear people, you take gifts readily. Then what about the gift of God? -Deepali Singh

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