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The Two Faced Childhood

 The story I am going to share is from ten years ago. I was a full-time researcher then, doing my research on translocated rhinos at Manas National Park, Assam. 

I and my team is commonly known in the nearby area as the IRV2020 team (Indian Rhino Vision 2020), a program designed by the Government of Assam for long time survival of the rhinos in the 7 protected areas of Assam.

 I was fortunate enough to be part of it. Every day, we used to venture out for the rhinos in the early morning and return during the late afternoon or evening from the jungle. There was no place for leisure or to hang out with my friends and families. 

So, I often visited the evening market with my colleagues. It was a great pleasure to have piping hot milk tea with pakora and samosa. We did not have the refrigerator to preserve the vegetables so we had to buy them every day from the local market.

One day, I brought some vegetables from a teenage boy. The boy easily persuaded us to buy his produce. I appreciated his endeavor and asked his address. 

He told me that he knew me as IRV2020 scientist with a smile. He told me that the vegetable products are from their own orchards and he often sells to full fill his needs as well as for the family. He was a class ten student in a nearby high school. I wished him good luck and ensured a future meeting.

I returned to my field camp and started documenting my monitoring findings. Suddenly, around 7-30 pm, Mr. C. R. Bhobora, then-Deputy Field Director of Manas Tiger Reserve called me. He called me urgently to his office Chamber. When I reached his office, Mr. Bhobora was sitting with a stern face in front of 9 very frightened boys, similar age to the boy I met earlier that day.

When I enquired about the matter, the officer told me that those teenagers were caught in some illegal loggers. They trafficked the illegal timbers from the edge of the forest to sawmills for a few bucks. They would pretend that they were carrying tree logs from their backyard but someone tipped the forest officials about the actual nature of the log transfer. The teenagers were gathering money to buy an android phone and their activities were hidden from their parents. 

Parents were called and there were much hue and cry about the future of the boys. Ultimately, Mr Bhobora let the boys go after their parents signed a letter to be more vigilant about their children's activities. He also explained the importance of forests and the future of humanity to the crowd until midnight. I also told them how we grow up and toiling here in Manas to establish a new rhino population.

I left the office just after boys and the parents returned. I spoke to Mr. Bhobora that the day was full of excitement and told about afternoon interaction with the same-aged boy near Manas. Within a 20 km radius, I experienced two contradictory stories within a period of six hours.

There is a famous parenting quote" Spending time is more important than spending money on children". The quote is most relevant to affluent families but for some parents like those in the second incident, there is another opposite quote " Money is important things to spend more time with children". As all the parents were daily wagers and they have to work hard only for the survival of families without any time for children. In such social hardship, some grow up with good morals like a guy at the village market. But some grow up with the opposite character.

Money or no money, we parents must give time to our children. There are thousands of families living in desperate poverty conditions all across the country. Lack of education, poor living conditions, limited landholding, and poor health conditions has periled their life. 

Still, some sections of the society have still inherited and harnessed a deep moral of Indian culture that helps the new generation to grow up with good ethics. 

Childhood after all is the first precious coin that poverty steals from a child (Anthony Horowitz). However, education is the most powerful weapon which can be used to overcome poverty (Nelson Mandela). Finally, if we promote education to all, there are chances to overcome poverty and evil things from our society. 


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