Children at Work
Question 1: Velu stood on the platform but he felt "as if he was still on a moving train". Why?
Answer: Sometimes long distance travel causes motion sickness. After the end of the journey one gets a sense the body is still shaking as if on a moving vehicle. That is what seems to have happened to Velu.
Question 2: What made him feel miserable?
Answer: Velu was in an unfamiliar place. He was hungry and was penniless. He did not know where to go from there. He was not sure what future lay in store for him. That is why he felt miserable.
Question 3: Velu travelled without a ticket. Why?
Answer: Velu ran away from his home. He was not having money to buy a ticket. So, he traveled without ticket.
Question 4: How did he escape the ticket collector's attention?
Answer: Probably Velu's luck was with him. The ticket collector never came to the compartment he was traveling in.
Question 5: Why had Velu run away from home?
Answer: Velu's father used to snatch whatever money used to be with him, to buy hooch. His father used to beat him as well. Velu was fed up of this continuous torture. To escape his father's wrath he ran away from home.
Question 6: Why did he decide to follow the "strange" girl?
Answer: The "strange" girl was the only ray of light for Velu. There was no other option. So, he decided to follow the strange girl.
Question 7: Can Velu read Tamil and English? How do you know?
Answer: The fact that Velu was unable to comprehend anything from hoardings in English indicates that he could not read English. He could read "Central Jail" written in Tamil. This shows that he knew to read Tamil.
Question 8: "If you are not careful, you will soon be counting bars there," the girl said.
- What is she referring to?
- What does she mean when she says "If you are not careful..."?
Answer: The police in India follow strange practice of putting unsuspecting and innocent poor people behind bars. The girl was referring to this practice. Once impressionable kids fall in police's net the ambience of jail has every potential to make hardened criminals out of them.
Question 9: Where did the girl lead Velu to? What did they get to eat?
Answer: The girl led Velu to a place where a marriage ceremony was being held. They went to the garbage pile to dig some edibles from there. They got some vada and banana to eat. It is normal practice for poor children in cities to search for leftover food from garbage heaps.
Question 10: What work did she do? Think of a one-word answer.
Question 11: What material are the "strange" huts made out of? Why does Velu find them strange?
Answer: The huts were made of plastic, old tyres and tins. Velu was from a village. All his life he had seen huts made of mud and thatched roofs. For him it was surprising to see a house made of discarded material.
This happens in all slums around the world. People migrating from village for better prospects find petty jobs which is not enough to sustain them. Majority of them sleep on roadsides. More lucky ones get some resources to build makeshift houses which are built of every conceivable material.
Question 12: What sort of things did Jaya and children like her collect and what did they do with those things?
Answer: Jaya used to collect garbage. These types of children sell them to dealers who in turn sell them to factories for recycling. Especially, in countries like India and China this is a big industry. In some way it helps in saving our environment as well, because recycling helps reuse of the waste product.
Question 13: Is Velu happy or unhappy to find work? Give a reason for your answer.
Answer: Velu never thought of doing the dirty work of rag-picking when he left his village. But the harsh reality forced him to do so. The fact that he is planning to switch over to a better job indicates that he is not happy at all.