Stories of Stolen Childhood
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Introductory Quiz of Lost Spring —Click Here
Character Sketch Quiz of Lost Spring-Click here
Lost Spring is a metaphor and it is compared with those children who never enjoyed their childhood.
Lost Spring means children are like Spring filled with freshness and happiness but this is lost in poverty stricken children.
This story is taken from Anees Jung’s book titled “Lost Spring Stories of Stolen Childhood”.
The writer tries to show how poverty and conservative tradition compelled few people to live miserably.
Meaning of these expressions
- looking for – try to locate or discover
- slog their daylight hours – struggle persistently during the daytime
- roof over his head – a place to live
- perpetual state of poverty – endless impoverishment
- dark hutments – encampment of huts devoid of any light
- imposed the baggage on the child – force the profession on the child
Children – Saheb ( a ragpicker form Seemapuri)
Mukesh ( Born in a bangle making family, Lives in Firozabad)
Savita ( Born in a bangle family and lives in Firozabad)
Character Sketch of Author, Saheb and Mukesh
Saheb was a young ragpicker from a place called Seemapuri. His full name was Saheb-e-Alam. His name was very ironic in nature because the meaning of his name was Lord of the Universe but in reality, he was a poverty-stricken child. Saheb wanted to study. His perpetual state of poverty couldn’t be allowed him to join a school. At the beginning of the story, Saheb was a young ragpicker, who enjoyed his freedom. He started working in a tea stall where his freedom ends.
Mukesh belonged to a family of bangle-seller. He was from Firozabad and this place is famous for bangle industries. The life of Mukesh and Saheb was the same. Both of the children were living far away from any kind of benefit. When Mukesh was asked about his aspirations in life; he said “I will be a motor mechanic. I will learn to drive a car.” In his family, no one showed the courage to choose their own choice of profession. Mukesh gathered that confidence and determined to do something different. He wanted to do a job of his choice.
The author played an important role in the story. She was a very sensitive lady. She understood both these children and their aspirations. The author wanted a change in society that’s why he suggested forming a co-operative for a few young bangle makers. She had a deep attachment to Mukesh and Saheb. From her narration, a reader can understand how poverty and tradition compelled someone to live a life of exploitation.
“Sometimes I find a Rupee in the garbage” tells Saheb to the author. The author everyday encounters Saheb and his friends in the heap of garbage collecting their gold (Irony). Families of Saheb and his friends left Dhaka, settled in the outskirts of Delhi.
One day when author asks about going to school. They replied that there is no school in their neighbourhood. The Author again asks half-jokingly “If I start a school, will you come?” Saheb shows his interest.
A few days later when Saheb meets the author; he asks “Is your school ready?” The author feels embarrassed because of giving a false promise to change their bleak world.
After knowing the boy for months, Author asks his name. The boy says “Saheb-e-Alam” (Irony). Author is surprised because his name and his work go contrary. Saheb-e-Alam means lord, who restricts himself on the heap of garbage only.
When Author asks about their chappals. They all replied in different ways but all the replies only show their poverty.
“I wonder if this is only an excuse to explain away a perpetual state of poverty.”
Author compares their life with story of a boy from Udipi. Where the boy of a priest prayed for a pair of shoes and when he got the shoes; he prayed to the goddess “let me never lose them”. The son of wealthy people can afford shoes but these poor rag pickers remain shoeless.
One day Author decides to visit a rag pickers colony called Seemapuri, a place on the periphery of Delhi, Yet miles away from it metaphorically. The people who live there are refugees who came from Bangladesh in 1971. When Narrator asks why they left their green fields and farms, one lady in tattered saris replies “If at the end of the day we can feed our families and go to bed without an aching stomach, we would rather live here than in the fields that gave us no grain.”
For children, the meaning of the garbage is completely different from what it means to their parents. For children it is wrapped in wonder, for the elders, it is a means of survival.
One fine morning, Author sees Saheb with a Steel Canister. Now, he is no more a rag picker. He works in a tea stall which helps him in earning 800/- and his meals. While doing this job he somewhere loses his carefree look. His plastic bag that was full of garbage is lighter than this canister. Saheb is no longer his own master!
I Want to Drive a Car.
Mukesh wants to become a motor mechanic.
When the author asks that does he know anything about cars? His dream looms like a mirage amidst the dust of streets that fill his town Firozabad, famous for its bangles. It is the center of India’s glass-blowing industry where families spent generations in only bangles making.
Mukesh’s family is among them. One day he takes the author to his home. Both of them walked down in stinking lanes choked with garbage, streets crowded with families of human and animals coexisting in a primeval state. Mukesh stopped in front of his house and take narrator inside his home. A frail young woman, who is cooking evening meal looks at the author and smiled. She is Mukesh’s brother’s wife. Mukesh’s father is an improvised bangle maker. Despite long years of hard work he only manages to transfer the art of making bangles to the next generation.
“It is his karam, his destiny” says Mukesh’s grandmother, who has watched her husband go blind with the dust from polishing the glass of bangles. Born in the caste of bangles makers, they have seen nothing but bangles everywhere.
Author sees a young girl named Savita, sitting alongside an elderly woman, soldering pieces of glass. Author thinks that whether this little girl knows the sanctity of bangles as bangles symbolizes an Indian women’s “Suhaag”. That elderly woman never enjoy even one full meal in her entire lifetime. Her husband, an old man says “I knew nothing except bangles. All I have done is make a house for the family to live in”.
After seeing their pathetic condition Author asks from a group of young people “Why you don’t create a cooperative. It will help you in improving their condition”. But these people kept so tight from the middlemen, police that they can’t even go out of it. Listening from these people, Author can see two distinct worlds- one of the world is caught in a web of poverty, burdened by the stigma of caste; on the other hand, there is a world full of Sahukars, Middleman, Policymakers, and the Politicians. Together they put all the baggage on the next generation.
Mukesh is very determined for his dream. He is ready to walk kilometers to learn the skills needed to become a motor-mechanic.
Important Word Meanings
- Encounter – come face to face
- Scrounging – to take things of others
- Glibly – very smooth, in a glib manner
- Roams – to wander
- Shuffle – to move the position
- Squatters – one who settles on public land illegally
- Intently – earnestly
- Canister – a small box of metal
- Dingy – a small boat
- Stinking – emitting an offensive smell
- Primeval – ancient
- Bang – to thrash
- Shack – rough hat
- Sizzling – Supittering sound
- Platters – a large flat dish
- Implies – to signify
- Mind-numbing – making mind numb
- Hurtling – moving in a particular direction
About the author
Anees Jung (1944- present) was born in Rourkela and spent her childhood and adolescence in Hyderabad. She received her education in Hyderabad & in the United States. Anees jung began her career as a writer in India. She is the author of several books including Unveiling India, Night of the New Moon, Seven Sisters & Breaking the Silence.