A Summer Plan

Manav returned home tired after a long day at the playground.

His mother, Mrs. Gopal, was busy cleaning the house.

“Can I help you clean, mother?” asked Manav.

This request surprised his mother as Manav did not like to clean. He even refused to tidy up his own room! 

Mother was puzzled, but she gave in, “Alright,” she said.

“I will begin with the study,” said Manav, eager to get going. 

After a three-hour marathon, the house sparkled and gleamed.

Pleased with his effort, mother offered to make Manav his favourite drink―strawberry milkshake.

“No thank you!” said Manav, as he ran out of the house. “I am not hungry mother. Maybe tomorrow!”

Surprised, mother watched the little boy disappear into the distance.

When he returned later that afternoon, Manav looked tired and dirty. 

Curious, mother asked him, “Manav, where have you been playing at?”  

Manav smiled the widest grin. “Tomorrow,” he said, “I will tell you everything mother!”

The next morning, Manav was up by 6 o’clock. He packed a few sandwiches for himself, and made some for his mother. 

Then, before mother could even get a word out, he hurried out of the house.

By now, mother was alarmed! 

She picked up the phone and dialed her neighbour, Mrs. Iyer. Her daughter, Sumedha, was Manav’s best friend. They studied in the same class.

“Mrs. Iyer,” began mother, “Manav, has been behaving in a strange manner since yesterday. I was wondering if…” 

 “Mrs. Gopal!” Mrs. Iyer stopped her mid-sentence. “I was about to call you!”

“Yesterday, despite my refusal, Sumedha cleaned the study. Then, she came in late for all her meals!” complained Mrs. Iyer.

Concerned, mother said, “I better call the twins, Aarav and Ananya’s, mother and find out what is going on.”

Mother called Aarav and Ananya’s mother. 

The twins, who lived two houses away from Manav, were in his class. 

The strange story continued. Their mother said that the twins had forced the maid to clean the study yesterday.

Mother waited for Manav to return for lunch. It was 3 o’clock now and he had still not returned. 

Anxious, mother decided to look for him. Just as she was about to step out of the house, Manav came rushing in.

“Mother, can you make two bottles of strawberry milkshake right away and bring it to the community hall at 4.30 pm sharp?” asked Manav.

Annoyed, mother did as Manav asked and showed up at the community hall at the requested time.

There she saw little Uttara, standing at the entrance of the hall. Her brother Arudra was standing next to her. 

Eventually, the parents started to come to the hall. 

At 5 pm, Manav, along with Sumedha, Aarav and Ananya came out of the community hall. 

They silently tied a ribbon across the doorway.

 “We are proud to welcome you to the opening of our colony library,” said the children together. 

“It is free for all. We have a collection of children’s books, comics, old text books and note books. All the children from the colony are welcome to spend their summer afternoons here.”

Little Uttara cut the ribbon with the help of her brother Arudra. Surprised, the parents cheered and clapped. Mother smiled.

Everybody stepped into the room. 

Inside, the children had neatly arranged the books on old, unused racks and each section was labeled.

All the parents appreciated the children’s efforts. 

Some even pledged to donate more books to the community library. 

Soon, it became the kids’ favourite joint. 

They spent their afternoons reading and drawing. Every day a parent sent in snacks, while some even joined the reading sessions.

The summer vacation turned out well for the children. Their plan worked after all.

Board Game Fun!

Maya and Krish want to play but all their games are missing a few pieces like the ludo board, carrom queen, chess pawns—bishop, king, horse, 2 scrabble tiles, die, 2 monopoly cards and a twister mat. Find these items for them.

Anti-Child Labour Day

Myra was sitting deep in thought that afternoon when her elder sister, Mandira, who was studying law came into their room. Seeing her sister sitting quietly, Mandira asked, “What’s the matter, Myra? What are you thinking about?”

“In school today, we were given a topic, ‘Anti-child labour Day’. We have to collect and share information about this day. We also have to paste some pictures. Didi, you are studying law. Do you know about ‘Anti-child labour Day’?” asked Myra.

“Yes, sure! But let’s eat our food first, and then we’ll talk,” replied Mandira. 

After lunch, Myra cleaned up and went with her sister to sit on the lawn in front of their house. Her sister pulled up two chairs at the table. Mandira had carried fruits and milk as an afternoon snack for them. 

“The International Labour Organization-is an international body formed to study and talk about labour. It started the ‘Anti-child labour Day’ in the year 2002. Many people take work from small children under 14 years. This is called ‘child labour’. Children are kept as servants in homes. Some children are employed in shops, hotels and garages. Children clean and wash cars. Some children are employed in hazardous jobs like mining; though this has become much less these days. In the olden days this was more common,” said Mandira.

“But why do people take work from small children?” asked Myra. “There may be some compulsions for these children, like they may be poor and may require money. Also, people pay less to small children and hence, don’t mind employing them,” replied her sister.

“But didi, then how do these children go to school? And what about their life, like play and games. What about those activities?” asked Myra.

“This is the objective of ‘Anti-Child Labour Day’, so that we recognize rights of children. Every child has the right to go to school, to play and enjoy life. We cannot deny them these rights by employing them for work. Childhood has a great impact on a person’s personality. The people who employ them often do not treat them well. For their small mistakes, they shout at them. Very often, they beat them. That is why Anti-child labour day is celebrated,” explained Mandira.

“Didi, after hearing you, I just remembered one thing. Near our school there is a hotel. I have seen a small boy working there,” remembered Myra.

“Really? Tomorrow I will come to pick you after school. Then we will go to the hotel and meet the boy. In the meantime, you can use the information I shared with you and prepare your report. I will help you download pictures from the internet or take them from magazines,” said her sister.

Next afternoon after school, Mandira and Myra went to the hotel. They saw the boy cleaning tables and serving food to the customers.

Mandira asked the hotel owner, “Who is that boy?” The hotel owner replied, “He is Ram, my elder brother’s son. My brother who lived in the village passed away last year. His mother also lives in the village. His education cost had increased and she was unable to meet the expenses. So I brought him here. He goes to school in the morning and helps me with my work in the afternoons. In the morning my wife stays here to help me. But she has the house to look after. So, Ram helps me take good care of the hotel.”

Mandira said, “You brought Ram to study here. That is very good. But along with the studies you are taking work from him and this is wrong. Do you pay him? Does his mother know all this? It is a crime to take work from him. From tomorrow you must stop asking him to work for you.”

Then the hotel owner said, “How does this matter to you? He is my own nephew. His mother will not say anything.”

“You are snatching his childhood from him. He needs rest after coming from school. Besides, he needs to complete his homework and studies. And for him play and games are also necessary. His childhood will not come back,” insisted Mandira.

The hotel owner then said, “Alright, didi. From tomorrow I will not take work from him.” They saw a smile on Ram’s face.

While going away Myra told her sister, “At least, Ram benefited from my project.” “Yes!” said Mandira and they returned home happily.