LITTLE FINGERS

 

And Suresh was five years old
when he was snatched from his family
made to work in a carpet factory.
He slept two hours, slaved twenty-two
tying knots till his little fingers
blistered and broke into septic sores.
He tried to run away, but they
caught him; and to teach him a lesson
they tied his feet, strung him
upside down from a tree, whipped
and branded him with a red-hot iron.
And Suresh was five years old
when made to slave in a carpet factory.

Because his fingers were nimble
Because his fingers were soft and swift
Because, they said, he was dependable.

Devi was four when she was shaken
awake at three in the morning;
and, with 200 other children
herded into a bus and driven
to a match and fireworks factory.
There, she spent sixteen hours
a day filling frames, stuffing
matches into boxes, pasting labels
and rolling gunpowder till her
fingers were eaten by chemicals.
Devi never knew what it was to play
and never saw a fireworks display
till that fateful day when a spark
hit the powderroom and blew Devi away.

Because her fingers were nimble
Because her fingers were soft and swift
Because, they said, she was dependable.

 


About 5% of India's child population are forced to work.
Most of them are working in conditions of object exploitation and criminal neglect of their physical and mental health.
"We prefer child workers. They work faster, work longer hours and are more dependable"  (Foreman in a fireworks factory).
"Children with their soft and nimble fingers are very important in the carpet industry".  (Carpet manufacturer).