I love reading Indian authors as it physically transports me to the country I grew up in. I can relate to the roads, the people, the culture, the odor, the food, the heartbeat of that land better than I could relate to any other place on Earth.
Last month I came across this book ‘Boys without Names’ by Kashmira Sheth.The story is about a kid whose family moves from a village to Mumbai, in search of a better life.But the big city leads him into a trap and he ends up being locked up in a small, dingy room with 5-6 other kids, who are forced to work on making beaded picture frames under the most inhuman conditions by a tyrannical master.They are fed just enough to keep their hearts pumping. They are not allowed to reveal their names or even talk to each other. They are never let out of the cage and are deprived of fresh air, sunlight, rain and open sky. Any small deviation from obedience or expectation is punished by insolent beatings.
This story brought my heart to my mouth. Any parent, whenever they hear of atrocities against children is thankful that their child is safe and silently prays that this never happens to their child.
Since this novel was just a story, it is allowed to have a happy ending. In this case, our protagonist, the village boy could read and write. So he wrote out a message to a shopkeeper to whose shop he was sent to by the master for a one-time errand. And the shopkeeper took action and brought police to raid this sweatshop. And thus these kids were rescued and reunited with their families. It brought tears of joy to my eyes.
But only yesterday, I read on ndtv.com about Moin.Here was the real-life version of that book.Moin was the name in Boys Without names.And alas, this was not a story. This is life and life is not penned by an author, or directed by a movie director, who is hopeful and triumphant. Life is cold, cruel and ruthless and poor Moin could not escape it. He was mercilessly beaten to death by the master of the bindi factory.
Did no one know what’s going on in the bindi factories? Sure, somebody knew but the way we are, we can be blind and deaf as long as nothing touches our lives. There are so many evils going around us that we just don’t want to have anything to do with others evil business. We just try to lead straight lives where we don’t hurt others and protect ourselves from being in harm’s way.
And we all know Moin because he is all over the press but there would be so many others whose lives are just as worthless and unnoticeable as the peanut shells which are crushed and ground under anybody’s feet.