Young Chetan isn’t entirely sure how old he is— locals in the area tell us he’s around eight years of age. He resides in a park next to the Red Fort with his mother, father, and an elder sister. Originally from Bihar, he moved to Delhi with his parents, who were hopeful that the capital city would ensure an increased income. Chetan attends an interim school run by the Salaam Balak Trust. Most of his days are spent playing in the park which holds their temporary hutment.
Somewhat distant and extremely shy, Chetan appears undernourished and weak. Poverty shows its signs and takes shape in his visible unhappiness. Though still youthful and excited about the little things in life, as a child should be, Chetan exclaims time and again his love for playing with his friends. “I feel safe. I play with my friends,” he says, crediting them with bestowing upon him a sense of security. “There are thieves who live under the flyover. They yell at each other. Nothing like that happens in the park! I get to play, which is nice,” he adds.
Save the Children helped Chetan register for legal identification, in the form of an Aadhaar card. Though he is less than 10 years of age, he understands the value this document holds. “It will help me study, go to school, and get a job,” he mentions. For him, Aadhaar is more than just a glossy sheet of paper with one’s biodata— it is the key to a world well beyond the park that he calls home. A world where one studies and works, creates a life for themselves that’s worth living. And with that, he runs away. He calls out to his friends, excitedly telling them how he got photographed, and oh, how he loved it!
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