Fayez’s sickness was getting worse. A few weeks ago, he was bitten by a scorpion at the farm. He decided to do nothing about it. And, every time we expressed our concern and tried to persuade him to go to the hospital he’d say, “The human body is capable of healing itself. I do not need any external help. Besides, this isn’t serious. So, there’s nothing to be worried about.”
After resting for a while, he said he was feeling much better and we drove towards Khaja’s garage. We wanted to talk to him about Mari. However, he wasn’t there. Apparently, he left to Theni town and would return in the evening. We were running low on fuel and the nearest gas station was a few kilometres away. So, we couldn’t go very far.
Fayez recalled the first piece of land that was shown to him in Bodi. He wanted to take us there and said, “You have to see it to believe it.” We were intrigued and we couldn’t wait to explore the land. We drove through many mud trails for the next half hour but couldn’t find our way. Fayez was still running a fever and we didn’t want him to drive around the whole day. After sometime, we gave up and decided to head back to town.
As we drove past the hills through fallen trees and dried thorny bushes, we came across a 16-year-old boy clad in a long khakhi shirt herding cows in a distance. Sweat dripping from his brows and a long stick in his hand, he walked through the fields; feeling the scorching earth beneath his bare feet. He wore a grim expression and gazed languidly at the hills. His name was Narayana Swamy. We wondered if he had any friends or if the animals were his only true companions. And, why wasn’t he in school at this hour? Almost instantly, Surya’s words from the previous day came to our minds. “We are nothing but numbers to them. It doesn’t matter who we are. We are the group of eight or ten who don’t deserve anything.”
Recently, UNESCO Institute of Statistics released their data on the number of children dropping out of schools in the year 2013. The report revealed that more than 124 million children and adolescents all over the world were out of school. Out of which, 17.7 million are from India. This further brings to light the issue of public education policies suffering a major blow in the country in the past few years. As a result, there’s been an alarming rise in the number of children being denied basic primary education in India.
Their identity is reduced to nothing but numbers, data and statistics. And, at the end of the day, we manage to systematically crush hopes in the hearts of those who were born without the right to choose; whose pleas have fallen on deaf ears, and those whom we have turned our backs on a long time ago.
But this shepherd boy wasn’t yet another number in a government record. He had a name. His name was Narayana. And, he too has hopes, dreams and desires. And, perhaps one day he will fulfill them all…
Project ‘Rest of My family‘ is an attempt to connect back, re-discover our relationship with and understand our responsibility towards the larger family that we are a part of — the rest of our human family. Hence, it is titled Rest Of My Family.
Through #RestofMyFamily, we will focus on highlighting social issues and human interest stories, documenting the triumphs of the ordinary man despite all the hardships they face constantly, and help these stories reach a larger audience and wherever necessary extend support to the individuals and communities that we write about. We hope to make a direct impact to the lives of those people we meet and find suffering due to various social issues; to connect the ones who need help to the ones who can help….
Find more about the campaign here: http://igg.me/at/restofmyfamily/x/539502