The Cobalt Blue Dupatta – #BarAThon Day 6

She was totally excited when Simran Didi told her to get ready as they were going to South Extension for Ruchi Didi’s wedding shopping. It’ll be so much fun. Clothes, jewellery, matching accessories, matching footwear. She was overwhelmed with the thought of it all as she changed into her maroon batik print suit that Simran Didi gave her last year on her godh bharai (baby shower). A tad loosely fitted and ankle long it was for eleven-year old Archana, yet very comfortable. She had altered it and kept it aside for occasions like these.

At Mehrasons, Ruchi Didi selected such wonderful designs and Simran Didi also chose quite a few bangles and earrings. Archana kept gazing around in awe. She was startled when a wailing Monu pulled her braid from his pram. She knew it was time to clean him up and change his Huggies.

After about three hours of trial, Ruchi Didi zeroed down on three beautiful lehengas worth few lakhs. And then they got into another store to purchase clothes to be distributed to important relatives. Archana had heard Ammaji tell Simran Didi to ensure that 54 sarees and 39 suit materials are purchased in total for the relatives. But Simran Didi had purchased 40 unstitched suit materials. Each one was a marvel. The 40th piece is sure going to be for me, Archana thought to herself and smiled as she fed Cerelac to Monu.

At home, Ammaji took the 54 sarees and 39 suit materials into her room, leaving behind the last piece, the best among the lot, on the couch in the living room. Archana was sitting on the freezing floor and feeding milk to Monu with one hand while she ran her hand through the carefully done sequin work on the dupatta of the cobalt blue suit piece.

Ammaji will come back and present it to me”, Archana smiled to herself.

Simran, get that blue suit material lying on the divan stitched according to Ruchi’s fitting for her Chooda ceremony”, she heard Ammaji scream from her room.

After dinner Archana quietly cleaned all the utensils before she finally went and spread her thin rug bed inside the kitchen. Her moist eyes took a long time that night to invite sleep.


In India, 33 million children in the age group of 0-18 years are working. Most of these children are engaged in the unorganised and un-regulated sector, making demand and availability of cheap labour an easy proposition. On the other hand, high levels of poverty and unemployment, coupled with lack of an adequate social security net, compel parents to allow children to work in hazardous occupations.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2016, which has been amended after 30 years, will not protect these children. Though it bans complete employment of children below the age of 14 years, an exception has been made for children working in family enterprises. This new act is based on the premise that education and work for children can go hand in hand. This argument goes against the spirit of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) 2009.

~ Failing Our Children, Indian Express

Recommended Reading: 

Activists Say Child Labour Act Locks in Caste-Based Occupations

Up To 2-Year Jail, Fine Of Rs. 50,000 For Child Labour

Child labour by other means

Why The Loopholes In The Child Labour Bill Are Good News For The Middle Class Indian


I am with Team #CrimsonRush for the #BarAThon from 1st to 7th August 2016.

This post if written for the prompt ‘wishful thinking‘ for August 6, 2016.



21 Replies to “The Cobalt Blue Dupatta – #BarAThon Day 6”

  1. Rekha…. Most households in India have a chotu or a gudiya. We have a strict no child labour policy at home. When my maid tried to get her 9 year old sister to help her , I objected. She had an argument saying we need to earn our roti. If she doesn’t work how will we manage? I told her the girl could work anywhere else if they allow it, but not at our place. Sad story everywhere

    1. Uma, husband and myself are also of the same opinion. We used to have mature girls from agencies when the daughters were young and I was working. I have had people telling me that I could get three young girls for that price from the agency and no tantrums. Even in agencies we have seen girls under 18 being sent to work. And they are trained well to answer questions on their age and if they are forced into it. With no option to go back home, these poor girls (and boys) suffer quietly.

  2. It so broke my heart reading this one! It is so ubiquitous that nobody thinks it’s causing harm to anyone and things continue to exist in the same way!


    1. These children are trained (rather threatened) so well that if you ask them for their age, they tell you they are above 18. I once saw a girl who wouldn’t be over 12 and had been applying vermilion on her forehead to escape questions from visitors. The family or the agent must have trained her to do that.

  3. its very touchy….beautifully presented the tough life of worst fated people. i have noticed such few boys and girls, once story i have shared in my series named “Unknown Indian”.
    just touched the heart….

  4. You sketched such a lovely picture and how sad is this. You’re picking up very relevant issues for your posts Rekha.

  5. With that story you highlighted another sad truth of underprivileged. They too have dreams, they too want to wear fancy clothes …. but situations don’t let them. I really hope the household buys something nice for her.
    Beautifully written!!

  6. It’s very sad to read this. Employing a minor girl itself is a crime and Atleast the owners should give something for Archana when they are celebrating marriage at home. Gifting clothes to relatives who can buy themselves is not at all important when compared to Gifting to someone who cannot afford.

  7. I’m sure the politicians who made that loophole wanted to protect their own household from losing their help! Glad you highlighted this issue; I never knew about it!

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