Being pampered by one’s parents, guardians and elders, receiving the loving care and attention from them and playing hide and seek with friends are some of the most memorable moments of every life. But what may be the memory of a boy who is hardly 12 years of age, who has missed all these sweet moments and taking the responsibility as the main bread earner of his family.
Naobi, a cute and smart hotel boy of Nambul hotel, located just opposite to the office of Imphal Times at Elangbam Leikai still has the seemingly unattainable urge to continue with his studies. He dropped his studies just before giving his class V examination since his family’s deteriorating financial condition forced him to work in the hotel as substitute to his unhealthy mother since four months back.
With the daily wage of Rs 200, Naobi just barely manages to keep the fire in their kitchen burning. “ I buy rice, vegetables, groceries and other necessary kitchen items and sometimes medicines for my parents”, replied the boy when this reporter asked “What you do with the money everyday”?
Naobi said “I will continue with my school again” when inquired about his plan for attending classes again.
Naobi is the second of two sons of Hijam Naba Singh and Hijam Ongbi Hemabati of Ningom Thongjao near PPLYW Club under Kakwa Police station. The boy disclosed that his father used to work at a brick field, but cannot go to the work regularly as he falls sick very frequently. He said his brother Somojit (15) too dropped his studies while studying at class IX and go around looking for any available menial work. He also informed that his brother does not return home during night, but said he has no idea where his brother is going or what exactly he is doing.
Expressing her love and sympathy for the boy, Oinam Sushila, owner of the hotel where Naobi is working at present, informed that she had even asked Naobi to stay with her as her adopted son, but that Naobi denied as he has to look after his ailing parents and care for his family.
Sushila said Naobi joined the hotel around 4 months back as substitute to his mother who contacted the hotel for work. “Since Naobi’s mother was critically unhealthy she send her son as her substitute”, said the sympathetic employer.
Naobi travels everyday on his Bicycle. He reaches the hotel by 7 am works till 6 in the evening every day.
No doubt there must be many more destitute children like Naobi in the society on one side, forced to face the harsh fate, his precious childhood cut short by circumstances while on the other, the state must be having provisions and various alternatives for rehabilitation and social reintegration such as foster care, sponsorship and aftercare of such children which have remain unutilized due to the lack of awareness, or worse still, as a result of the indifference of those authorized and entrusted with the authority and resources to address such unfortunate incidents.
By Reena Nongmaithem