The master of ceremonies invites Mr. Ansh Kiran, the recipient of the prestigious Golden Citizen Award, to give a speech of acknowledgement.
â€œI accept this honour you bestow upon me, and dedicate it to my bhayya, Kiran.
You must be surprised to note that I called you bhayya â€“ my elder brother. I have always called you by your name â€“ Kiran, not out of lack of respect, but because that was what you were to me. The kiran who came to me at my darkest hour, when I had given up all hope, when life seemed nothing but another hour I needed to slave through.
That day, if you had not come to me and spoken to me, I would not have had the chance to speak to another individual ever again. I remember, Master used to beat us up and tie us on the post in his godown if the daily earnings were less than what he expected us to bring. Those who tried to escape, had it worst. One of the boys who were there with me, I remember, tried to jump the walls and escape. We all thought he did, until Masterâ€™s crew of thugs dragged him in the next day. The other kids told me that the cut off his hands and forced him into begging on the streets. You can imagine the shock it gave me. I planned to end my life the next day, and I had devised a plan too. From where I slaved, the railway tracks were quite nearby, and they would have been my escape route, had you not picked me up from where the tracks I was lying on.
After you found me and gave me a second life, somewhere along the journey of life when I got educated, I realized that Master (I do not even know his name!) treated us like animals. He kept us hungry till we obeyed, threatened to beat us up if we dared disobey his words, hurt us psychologically and emotionally by instilling a fear of the world in us, that it was waiting to rip orphan kids apart (as if he was doing something different!). Maybe if one of us did try to escape, and had outrun his reach, we would have escaped from him forever.
You took me in at an age when your friends were lavishly spending their fatherâ€™s money on girls and cinemas, saved up your money to educate me, stayed awake through the nights and tutored me, took pains to draw out the pessimism from me and inspire me to grow beyond the darkness that had grown like a cancer in me. You mothered me when I was ill, fathered me through the years to help me reach where I am today. You gave me a name and gave me your name too!
For me, you are the perfect example of how much one individual can contribute towards change in the society. Even though the devil took my innocence, you gave me my childhood back. Even though God took away my family, you gave me much more than that. Today, if I am able to stand on this dias and speak to this large an audience, share my story and inspire people, it is because of you. â€œ
This fictional piece is written commemorating Anti Child Labour Day. Ever wondered what kind of lives those children lead, who toil daily to earn their own butter, who get beaten up and thrashed for no fault of theirs, who lose their innocence even before they grow up? How can we, as a society justify child labour?
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