Eight-year-old Nayan lives in New Delhi, near the historic monument, Lal Quila (Red Fort).
While he posed against the imposing building in the background, he appeared in stark contrast to the building with his small and undernourished structure. Nayan’s playful side peeked through his shyness as he posed for the photograph with glee.
He lives with his mother and his younger brother in a temporary home inside the Seelamgarh park, near Lal Qila. After Nayan’s father died of kidney failure borne from an alcohol addiction that he developed while trying to escape debt collectors, his mother decided to move to Delhi to work as a daily wage labourer, in the hope of supporting her two sons. Her parents live in the neighbouring hutment. “I like living with my grandparents. I used to feel scared when my father was around, but after coming to live with my grandparents, I feel safe,” says young Nayan.
TThe park they all live in, forms the larger part of Nayan’s world, except for the few days when he attends an interim school run by a local NGO, the Salaam Balak Trust. His childhood innocence has become somewhat clouded from moments when life on the streets shook him to the core. He quiveringly recalls having seen numerous alcoholics and drug addicts around him. “Once, I saw someone in the park who seemed as though he was dead. Later, I found out he was drunk and sleeping,” narrates Nayan, shuddering at the traumatic memory.
When Save the Children approached Nayan to help him register for an identity card, he was delighted at the prospect of it potentially changing his life— for him, that simply meant no longer living with the fear of being picked up by the police. Other than that, while he is unsure and unaware of ways in which an identity card could shape his life and the opportunities available to him, the registration process pleased him as it gave him a platform to have his photograph taken. Still youthful and guileless despite his plight, Nayan runs away to enjoy the rest of his evening, spending it in the park he calls home.
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