The first time that I’d seen him he was dressed in a clean, gold, grey and white, horizontal striped T-shirt and looked different. Today, he wore a dirty white one, looked really scruffy and despite pouring over his photo for days, I found it hard to recognize him. He greeted my question with silence. Then went to the burly man and said something but didn’t come back to me, so I went up and reminded the man that I’d been here a couple of weeks ago, taking pictures. He assured me good-naturedly, that he remembered me well. I said that if the boy wanted to study, I would like to help.
The principal of a government school lived in the same condominium as I did and one of the women in my tower ran a small school for servant’s children, so I was hopeful of being able to help. The boy murmured something to the big man, who informed me that he has a father and has to ask him. So I said, “You do that and I shall come again”. I came home and made some phone calls and was told that by law no school could refuse to enrol him if he was less than fourteen years of age. I felt reassured that I hadn’t raised his hopes for nothing.
The next day, en route to
, I stopped by to ask what they had decided. His father, a cycle-rickshaw-wala, had apparently refused my offer to help educate him. On asking the boy what he wanted to do, I got no response. I persisted, so he said they were returning to their village in Delhi Bengal. I asked when he’d be back; to be informed that they may not return. I promised to look out for him and take up the matter again, adding that he should think about it.