Saturday, August 16, 2014

Freedom Run!

 As our nation turns 68 today, like many Indians, we too watched the Independence day celebrations on television and keenly listened in on our Prime Minister’s maiden I-day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort, New Delhi and also followed it up by attending the flag hoisting ceremony in our community neighbourhood. Over the years, Independence day celebrations have gone beyond the traditional flag-hoisting- patriotic-singing ceremonies and the emphasis is more now on celebrating India in all its pride, history and diversity. So from Tiranga halwa at I-day buffets to I-day discounts and offers and I-day children’s story-hours, its “Happy Independence day” all the way!

I so wish we could attend the Independence day special story time organized by friend and fellow blogger Cuddles and Reads, but due a prior engagement, we had to make do with a freedom story at home!:-) While Independence day is a time to reflect on the struggles and sacrifices our forefathers who fought for India’s freedom, it is also a time reflect in other freedoms we need to fight for today. I remember the centerpiece of  Independence day celebrations at our school was always be a map of India with  question “Is India free?” Going by the same issue, today we read a story that throws light on the plight of the forgotten children of ….Khamaria in Uttar Pradesh where the children are made to work all day at the carpet looms. “Freedom Run” by Subhadra Sen Gupta and Tapas Guha  is a level 4 reader in a comic book format brought out by Pratham publications. Meant for slightly older children, this is a moving story revolving around three children Kallan, Mansoor and Gokul who are made to work at the carpet loom to pay off their parents’ debt. All of them long to be free from the drudgery of knotting carpets for Mir Ali, the loom owner at whose hands they suffer physical and emotional abuse. It is only when they meet Munna Bhai, a social worker, that they realize that it’s illegal to make children work to pay off loans. Munna Bhai even offers to take them to Sewapuri where they can study and earn by weaving at the same time. But the question is how will they get to Sewapuri?? Meanwhile Gokul’s brother Rahul tries to rescue him from the evil clutches of Mir Ali and his associates…..?? Do the children manage to escape to freedom?? Will they be free like the rest of the children?? Read on as your young reader ponders over the harsh realities of life and goes on to understand the value of freedom…which we all take for granted!!! Lets hope this Independence day brings freedom to many such children who are victims of circumstances……!!!

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