‘I Liked The Teachers, But My Other Classmates Used To Beat Me Up’

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Raju Dutta | 6 | Former Student 
Guwahati, Assam

Raju Dutta
Raju Dutta, Photo: Ujjal Deb

I have no home. I live with my parents under the Ambari flyover close to the Guwahati Railway Station. They are rag pickers and I help them with their work. I had an elder sister, Asha, who suddenly disappeared three years ago. My parents did not even bother to lodge a complaint with the police since it meant there’d be one less to feed. I lost my playmate; she was only two years elder to me and was very fond of me. I still miss her. She and I went to school, but after she went missing, my parents stopped my schooling.

My parents feel it is useless to send me to school. Rather they feel if I help them with rag picking, we will earn more. Our family earns around Rs 1800 a month. My parents left their village in Bongaigaon district of lower Assam after an ethnic conflict in the area. They have been living under the flyover for over a decade. For us, education means nothing, forget RTE.

Half of the day my father remains drunk, and then beats me and my mother up at night. Life is dark for us. My mother wants me to study. She even went to a teacher to find out if she could give me free education. But what can we do? We are poor people. For months together, we only eat boiled rice and salt.

I spend my time in either the railway station or the railway yard picking up rags with a dozen other children of my age. None of us go to school. Staying with them I am learning only slangs, I have also got addicted to smelling adhesives like dendrites. But I do not like this at all.

I spend my time in either the railway station or the railway yard picking up rags with a dozen other children of my age. None of us go to school. Staying with them I am learning only slangs, I have also got addicted to smelling adhesives like dendrites. But I do not like this at all.

Ratnadip Choudhury is a Principal Correspondent with Tehelka. 
ratnadip@tehelka.com

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Special Correspondent

A young IT professional by training and a journalist by chance, Ratnadip comes from the smallest Northeastern state of Tripura and has been reporting out of Northeast India for ten years, as of 2014. An award winning Journalist, Ratnadip started his career with the Tripura Observer and went on to work with the Northeast Sun, The Northeast Today, News Live, Sahara Time and The Sunday Indian. He has also contributed to BBC, CNN, NatGeo TV, NDTV, CNN-IBN and TIMES NOW. Before joining Tehelka, Ratnadip worked with the national bureau of the television news channel NewsX. He specialises in conflict reporting and has a keen interest in India’s eastern neighbours. He has won the RedInk Excellence in Journalism Award 2013, Northeast Green Journo Award 2013, LAADLI Media awards for Gender sensitivity 2013. He is among 10 young Indian scholars selected by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on trans-boundary river issues of the subcontinent. He is based in Guwahati.

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