By Pragati Pandey
I recall my college days when every evening I used to travel by Delhi Metro to Mandi House, near Connaught Place, for attending classes.
While going to college by Metro Station I used to every day see a Boy around 11-12 years of age, wearing old but neat clothes, selling packets of Chips and Namkeen. Perhaps this was his only source of income for his daily livelihood. He would run to people to sell his packets. By the end of a day, he could manage to sell almost all his packets and leave for his home, which I realized must be nearby. I could see him only in the evening hours, and not during the day.
On the face of it, the child looked bright and my curiosity to know and help him grew. It is not that I was seeing such children for the first time, but some times, your heart gets stuck to some one who looks special to you. I decided that I would speak to him.
Coming for my classes I decided to skip one day and waited for him. He came as usual with 30-40 packets in his bag running around to people to sell. I stopped him and told him that I wanted to speak to him. He was in a hurry as I was only wasting his time. I persuaded him that I would buy his 5 packets if he listens to me for 5 minutes. He stopped.
His name was “Azad” a 12 year old boy, a very neat and tidy boy with good manners. I asked him, since how long you have been selling these packets. He said ” for last 2 years”. And Why don’t you go to school instead of wasting your time here ?, I asked. Azad looked at me as if I should have checked my words. He said, ” who told you that I don’t go to school ?” “I go to school every day and I am a bright student”. I was shocked to hear his reply. I asked him again ” so why this running around after people to sell the packets”. Didi, Azad replied, “my school is during day time. I need to buy new books and other stationary items like other friends have. I also want to learn computers so that when my computer classes start, I am not left behind”. But there is a problem, he said. I asked him, “what is the problem”. Azad said, “my father’s income is not much. earlier I was the only child now I have 2 more siblings. Their expenditure does not allow my father to spend more money on me any more. So I decided, I would meet my expenditure myself”, Azad proudly said.
His ego and attitude impressed me. I reluctantly offered a help to him. “Azad, would you be fine, if I spend 20 minutes with you daily to teach you computers on my lap top”. I informed him that I have my classes and I come everyday. Ill come 30 minutes before every day and spend about 20 minutes with you teaching computers and also solve any other education problem.”
Azad looked at me and asked, “Why do you want to help me Didi”. I could not stop my tears. People dont expect anyone coming for a help forward. “I said, if I had a brother like you, would I not help him.” I told him that I am a member of Vedanta’s “Khushi” campaign and we try to help children like you in what ever way we can. Azad agreed to my request and the “Khushi” on his face was evident. He was happy. His skills of learning impressed me further. I teased him by calling “My Laptop Brother”.
Days passed, and we continued to learn together. He learned basics in computers from and resolved his English subject problems. And I learned from Azad, a sprit to fight against odds.
Pragati Pandey is an active member of Vedanta’s “Khushi” campaign. She shares her experience of her contribution towards care for the underprivileged children. A heart touching story that I am sure would motivate many.