They too have children, small kids moving along with them and doing things that they should not be at their age but they have to because schooling is static and these people are on the move!
This is a story from the mountains of UT Jammu and Kashmir which I yet again created out of an image which my friend, a wanderer in the mountains but loves to do the lens work, sent me. Along with the picture he also gave me the brief but yet captioned his picture as ‘Kashmir Ki Kali’.
While opening my mail box the first thing that struck me as to what would be the meaning of this off the hand phrase used time and again after the classic Late Shammi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore starrer of the same title shot in Kashmir.
But it was not the case, it was all about a young kid girl moving around in the highlands smilingly but when my friend caught her in the picture she went mum not exactly knowing as to what the man on the camera was trying to do.
Had she got some knowledge about pictures she surely would have made out but how could she with a bundle of firewood on her head which is a surefire indication that a child is illiterate. Sorry for using the word but other than that no other one can be used for this child.
Obviously the parents have to take a fair share of blame because they do not take the educational care of their small children but other than what they are doing they can do precious little.
They have a fixed routine and that has been continuing down the ages. Though some from the Deras have scrambled out of the system and are doing well, there are many who continue with this age-old practice.
When the Deras move the children also and thus their education remains on a limbo and are thus lagging behind a long way. The boys grow up to take over the same set way of the family and the girls grow up tending the cattle and finally get married and go!
Can this be called a decent routine in the world which is on fast wheels? I’m sorry in no way? But these people have to carry on because this is their profession? The dairy products which we relish and the meat we eat all come from them.
Perhaps the reaction of the mankind down in the plains is just to pay them and buy without seeing the hardships they undergo. Especially so none of us is bothered about their children who too go through various stages of development from a child to adult hood.
The administration would do well to look after their childhood which at the moment seems to be lost in these lovely mountainous terrain as depicted in the picture which my friend shot!
The ridges, the crests, the slopes and meadows in the mountains in UT Jammu and Kashmir have plenty of stories to relate. Some happy, some wise, some hilarious, some pathos ridden and some absolutely innocence filled and needless to mention those volatile and ridiculous ones of the past. This one is full of emotional as well as thought provoking waves.
We know every parent knows the childhood of their small kids and with the technology coming in the growing up years are captured in images as they grow in which their birthdays are captured digitally both from the ground as well as from air by spy cams or picture taking drones (not so long back it were the video films captured via the massive video cameras resting on shoulders) and subsequently packed in boxes only to be opened when the kids grow up so that they can show their childhood to their children because they are all nostalgic and do tend to moist the eyes. But what about these kids? Their parents can do nothing but to just remember their pranks they did but that too as broken threads of life time. Only a photographer or a newsman on a journalistic errand gets into their living areas and clicks photographs for a story as my friend was or an army patrol on a routine task comes to give them the medical aid and sweets to the small kids, taking photographs to take back to show it to their own back home.
There is no one to tell them bedtime stories such as this one about a girl who whines about boredom until she meets a potato. The potato tells her that kids are boring. The little girl is surprised and tells the potato that kids are not boring, and are actually a lot of fun. The potato asks the girl to prove this. The little girl tells the potato all the things children do to have fun. She tells the potato that kids can play games, do cartwheels, skip, walk on their hands, have a race, and play on the swing. She also tells the potato that better than everything else, kids can imagine. This story is a way to remind children of all the fun things they can do when they are bored. This story can also be interactive if you ask your child to recount all the fun things that he/she likes to do. But who will do these small little things in freezing mountains. No one!
Now for example the kid in the picture, this is the time that she should be in the school, studying, playing and having fun but that is not possible and hence the favorite pastime has to be just living out the day, walking to the forests and collecting wood. I do not think that Sharmila Tagore did that in Kashmir Ki Kali in the fabulous scenic drama on the silver screen. This kid is doing it but she is a child beauty from magnificent story wandering like Alice in Wonderland. Maybe tomorrow, which is not far off, she would be somewhere on the top of the deck in case someone notices the bundle of wood on her head, drops it forthwith and instead hands her books, drawing books and crayons to draw her childhood! It can be done then why not just do it!
These children will not be able to do it alone. For sure they cannot but they can be helped as and when they descend down in winters. Love for reading begins at schools. They can be a part of winter schools and their parents should be made aware of this. I will finish this one off with a small little anecdote which says, somewhere behind the athlete she became and the hours of practice and the coaches who pushed her was a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back so let us play for her! Trust me we have not done so and thus yet another childhood is getting wasted!