I am sure all of you must have spotted young boys working at garages, tea stalls, hotels, shops and numerous other places. Have you ever pondered where from they come. The next time you come across such children do pose this question. It is highly probable that they have run away from their homes.
S Hariharan’s Runaway Children is his true story. He hailed from a well to do orthodox family. He ran away from his house on three occasions. Firstly for few hours, then for few days and finally for few months. He has penned his experiences in the book Runaway Children. His writing opens the doors to the harsh realities of lives of these young boys. They slog for hours for a pittance. They have to work hard to ensure that they will get their meals on time. For them live is a constant struggle. As a result there is no room for religion or its allied activities.
In spite of all the arduous labour and the every kind of exploitation they are subjected to these young boys come up in their lives. They share a dream of moving high in their lives. Their dreams may not be as lofty as those of the educated middle-class boys and girls. For them saving a few thousands to start a paan stall is also an aim in life
This small book consisting of 197 pages is a page turner. You can easily finish it in one or two sittings. The writing is very simple. But the story, if I could call it one, is riveting. You will not move from your seat as you read the book, but something will move inside you. The book is an eye opener to those living in luxurious homes and moving in swanky cars. For within the same corporate India lives the adolescent population which has no access to school, health care, toilets, water and shelter. The book also underlines how even the educated parents fail to understand the psychology of their children. If they were a bit more understanding, caring and forgiving most of these children would have never left their homes. The book also tells us about the social workers who under the garb of helping these boys, sexually exploit them.
This book is certainly not a literary masterpiece. But it documents the lives of those unfortunate children who many believe that do not exist. They are not the voters. So no political party is interested in their cause. They are vulnerable to every form of abuse. I recommend every parent and child should read this book. It will teach the parents to be empathetic towards their wards. It will teach children to value what their parents provide them. Most importantly I am sure after reading the book, when you come across any of these working young boys, you will at least acknowledge their existence. This I believe is the first step towards their rehabilitation and upliftment. For this sole reason this book is highly recommended.