source: indianexpress

Gurgaon: Eight years ago, Ram babu came to Gurgaon with big dreams in his mind for his son. He got him enrolled in a school here in the hope that he will not become a laborer like him in the future. 

But Ram’s dreams got shattered when he had to leave the city in the fear of starvation amidst the coronavirus-triggered lockdown. He decided to move back to his village when he started struggling in making ends meet. 

His eight-year-old son, Neeraj, is reluctant to leave the city and pleads his father to let him stay back and attend school once it reopens. Ram reminisces the time when he first came to the city in search of work and went on to get his son admitted to a school here. 

Ram is afraid that he might never come back to Gurgaon and his son will have to study in the village school. He says that he had stayed in Gurgaon for the past eight years and has worked as a laborer at different construction sites. He always wanted his son to study in a big-city school as the schools in the village are not as good. 

Ram also added that Neeraj had got admission in a government school here and his fees and meals were taken care of by the school. They were happy that their son will get a good education there and will not have to work as a laborer when he grows up. 

He said that there is no work now. They had to vacate the room in which they were staying after April as they were unable to pay the rent. He said that his pending wages have also not been paid. They are now waiting for their chance to come for train travel. He says that Neeraj wants to stay back to attend school once it reopens but how can he leave him here alone.

Neeraj is very unhappy about visiting his village with all their belongings. He said that he likes the school here and wishes to come back soon once the situation gets normal. If his father can build houses, he will be able to come back. 

A rickshaw puller from the Sheikhpura district of Bihar says that big-city school is a sought-after thing in his village. He says that a rickshaw puller can do his job anywhere, but they choose to do it in a big city so that their children can study in big-city government schools. The government schools are the same in the village and the city but there is a better education standard in the city. 

He says that he likes it when his daughter can talk fluently in English and his daughter is smarter than her village friends in maths. He says that he will come back after a few months when the situation normalizes and see if he can manage his expenses here or not. He also says that the expenses of his daughter’s study are not to be worried about as the Anganwadi centers contribute a lot, but the main concern is of what they will eat if they stay back.

Both the families left on a shramik special train earlier this week with hundreds of migrant laborers who became the victims of reverse migration due to the lesser availability of work during the lockdown. 

Diwan Raj, who works with a catering firm here said that his son’s school here is incredibly good. They sent sanitizers and masks for the whole family and the teacher explained everything about coronavirus and its precautions on the phone. All of this is not available in a village school and children struggle when they grow up. 

He said that he wished he could do something to keep things the way they were. He waited for two months so that things could go back to normal, but nothing has changed, and they have exhausted up all their savings now. Now, we have to go back, even though the lockdown has been eased, there us no work for us, we do not have any other option left. I am more worried about my son’s education as I know it will not be the same when we leave this place. We can live anywhere but his education will be compromised.



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