The Face of a Bonded Laborer

Learnhive is running Think n Ink Contest- Creative Writing Contest for kids aged 5 – 15. We have lots of new entries and we’ll be uploading your work here. This is one of the write-up which was uploaded for the Think n Ink Contest. 

Story by Banu Rajanna of Grade 7 for Think n Ink Contest

I wake up from the wooden cot, but my wife’s not there. She must’ve started cooking for me. As usual, I move to the outhouse and pluck a neem branch, and start brushing. I’m just another bonded laborer, so I can’t afford toothbrushes. But we just happen to manage. As always, its gruel for breakfast, but my kids wake up then. After finishing my food, I grab my spade, and head off to work.

I walk and walk, but the journey seems endless. On the way, I see the landlord’s kid travelling in six-wheeled cars, something I can’t even dream of. School was something my kids can’t go to because the nearby school asks for a dashing sum of money. I received a job offer at the school, but I had to turn it down due to my father’s mistake. He borrowed a sum of money from the landlord thirty-five years ago to buy fertilizers which would last a year. To repay the loan, I have to work for him. The landlord’s mansion is a substantial distance from my house, that’s why it seems so endless. When I reach there, he comes forward with another laborer holding a pile of bricks. He says, “You’ve got bricks today, son. Now move on! The outhouse is where you’ll be going.” As always, I follow his orders, and move to the outhouse. The cement’s already there at the site. He passes a layout of the building and asks me to do it.

Brick by brick I stack, and already I’ve lost a great deal of sweat. When I run out of bricks, I pick another sack and the outhouse is done. He comes, and says, “Do you know how many bricks you’ve used?” I never went to school, so I can’t count. “Stack more bricks or you don’t get meals for a week!” he says. So I grab another sack and build it. When I’m done, he drags me to his farm in a bullock cart and dumps me with a bunch of fertilizers and, “My veggies are dying. Mix this with a cup of water and smear it evenly.” I timidly nod to him and I begin the mixing. It has the scent of a neem tree, so I suspect it comes from that. I suspect it’s already noon, but my stomach’s already grumbling. The other workers looked like they hadn’t eaten in a month, so I consider myself lucky – plain lucky. Once I’m done and dusted with the fertilizer, it’s already lunchtime. Today, he’s given us beaten rice with lentils and vegetables. I try imagining making this at home. We’d have to substitute the beaten rice with regular rice, and the lentils would have to be black bean. The only thing we can afford. I gobble it up as fast as I can and then the landlord says we have to move to the house, for he is expecting guests.

We start the sweeping and the cleaning so the guests will be impressed by its sheer decadence. The cooks start cooking, and I start filling the wine glasses. I can tell from the smell that it’s a different kind, not the regulars. The guests arrive and I start serving them. Some of them didn’t like the wine, so they actually dump it on my head! I mean, are we treated worse than slaves just because we’re bonded laborers?  We too have a body which is as human as theirs. I can prove it with blood! When the guests leave, oh what a mess they have made. Millions of shards of glass lay on the silk carpet. Food lies on the floor; I mean that could feed three people! Okay. Now I’m dragged to this large factory with huge chimneys, but when he says what it is, it’s exactly what I expected – a meat factory.  How disgusting. I’m a vegetarian, and I hate the smell and the feel of it. He drags us inside, and gives us a briefing on what to do. “The meat’s a new industry. I’m trying to make more money for an amusement park”. What a rich guy. He hands us buckets of meat to put through the processors. The textures are so different and squishy. Once we’re done with the meat, its night already. I got 20 for today, so I used 5 for a ride halfway to home because the factory is really far. When I light off the vehicle, the landlord’s kids have already planned an ambush on me. They made and threw smoke bombs on my face and thrashed me with a hammer. My elbow got a deep wound.

Perhaps this is what it’s meant to be. I see my kids running in the meadow not far from home. The purple wildflowers in their hands reminded how my life was when I was their age. I just hope my children would have a better fate than I did. Just when I was entering home, the landlord came in his long, black car, with his sons in tow. They give a full apology and get out of the house. I move to the cot, as always how my day would be tomorrow.


About Think n Ink: 

Learnhive is running Think n Ink Contest for Kids aged 5 – 15. Encourage your children to participate. You can register for Free! The prizes will be given in 4 categories and the best original written piece will win cash prizes and certificates. Closing date for this contest is May 22nd, 2013.

Sign up for free, participate, and win prizes by clicking here.

Think n Ink Contest- Learnhive Summer Contest 2013

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