Children at work, Class 8 English It so Happened Book Lesson 2 Explanation, Summary, Difficult words
Children at work Class 8 English It so Happened Book Lesson 2– Detailed explanation of the lesson along with meanings of difficult words. Given here is the complete explanation of the lesson, along with the summary. All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson
- Children at work – Introduction
- Children at work – Summary
- Children at work – Summary in Hindi
- Children at work – Lesson and Explanation
- Children at work – Question and Answers
- Video Explanation of Children at work
- NCERT Class 8 English MCQs with Answers
- Class 8 English Honeydew Word meaning of Prose | Chapterwise
- Class 8 English Honeydew Book All Poems Word meanings
- Class 8 English It So Happened Book Chapter wise Word meanings
Class 8 English (It so Happened Book) Lesson 2 – Children at work
-By Gita Wolf, Anushka Ravishankar and Orijit Sen
From Trash – on Ragpicker Children and Recycling
Children at work- Introduction
The lesson “Children at work” tells us a tale of an Eleven-year old boy who had run away from his village as he could not handle his father beating him up for one more day. He got into a train to Chennai without a ticket. Upon reaching the city, he had no idea of what he would do or how he would manage to stay alive. The story tells us how children like him end up working instead of studying at schools, where they truly belong.
Video Explanation of Children at work
Children at work- Summary
The lesson begins with the Kanyakumari Express reaching Chennai Central Station, where Velu, an eleven-year old boy, had to get down. He was very nervous to step down on the platform and once he did, his legs felt wobbly. He found himself a place to sit, at a bench on the platform. Never in his life, he had seen so many people all at once except once a year at his village fair. He was terrified and as he bent his head and put it on his knees, he heard a strange voice. He tried looking here and there and found a girl of about his own age. The girl was wearing a loose banian and was carrying a sack on one of her shoulders, in which she collected plastic cups that she picked up from the platform. The girl asked him how he got here but Velu did not answer. He did tell her his name but was reluctant to tell a stranger that he had run away because he was fed up of being beaten up by his father everyday. He could not take it anymore that his father snatched away all that he and his sisters earned to pay for his drinking. Suddenly, he felt his stomach pinching him as he had not eaten much in those two days. The weird expression on the face made it clear to the girl, who then offered to help him with food. She got up and began walking. At first, Velu was not sure if he should follow her, but then he thought to himself that he had nowhere else to go, so he got up too and matched her speed.
They waited a bit to find a gap between the moving traffic so that they could cross the road. The smoke and dust in the air made Velu’s head spin. Velu was hesitant to cross the road but the girl somehow dragged him to the other side. They then started walking along the side of the road where Velu saw various sign boards. He could not read anything that was written on them because it was all in English but he surely saw pictures. His naked feet burned from the heat that was being released from the tar. It was nothing like walking on mud. They then turned into a bridge where Velu paused to peep down. Jaya warned him about the big building with walls. She said if he wasn’t careful, he could end up counting bars. Velu managed to read the Tamil sign on the building that said Central Jail.
After an hour of walking, they reached in front of a huge building that said Sri Rajarajeshwari Prasanna Kalyana Mandapam and the names of the groom and the bride. At first, Velu thought they were to eat inside, but despite his high expectations, Jaya showed him the reality by taking him behind the building where there was a rotten smell in the air. They could see a garbage bin. Jaya found a squishy banana and a vada for Velu who was reluctant to eat it. Jaya assured him that she only chose untouched food and that this is all she could do as she had no money to feed him. Velu couldn’t resist because his stomach was pinching him. He ate it and felt instantly better. Jaya told him that he could wait till the people inside completed their lunch but she had to go to work. Velu followed her since he had nowhere else to go and to him, the girl seemed to have a way with things. He began running after her and asked her name which she told him.
They then walked around for about half an hour and reached Triplicane. Velu saw a row of the strangest huts he had ever seen. They were made of metal sheets, tyres, wood and plastic. In his village, they only had houses made with mud and palm leaves. Jaya went inside one of the huts to get herself a new sack because the current one was filled. She told Velu to give her a hand and handed over a sack and stick to him. Velu got confused as he did not know what she wanted him to do with all this stuff. He had only worked in a landowner’s farm where he took the cows for gazing. Unfortunately, there were no farmers in the city. Jaya told him what she did was called ragpicking and they sorted through rubbish to find paper, plastic and glass which they further sold to Jam Bazaar Jaggu. Velu was still confused as to why someone would want to buy rubbish. Jaya elaborated that Jaggu further sold it to factories and that she had no more time to waste as she had to work. Velu reluctantly agreed to do it till he could find himself a better job.
Children at work- Summary in Hindi
पाठ की शुरुआत कन्याकुमारी एक्सप्रेस के चेन्नई सेंट्रल स्टेशन तक पहुँचने से होती है, जहाँ ग्यारह साल के लड़के वेलू को उतरना था।
वह रेल से नीचे उतरने के लिए बहुत घबराया हुआ था और एक बार जब उसने ऐसा किया, तो उसके पैर डगमगाने लगे। उसने खुद के लिए प्लेटफार्म पर एक बेंच पर बैठने के लिए जगह ढूंढ ली।
उसने अपने जीवन में कभी भी इतने सारे लोगों को एक साथ नहीं देखा था, सिवाय साल में एक बार अपने गाँव के मेले में। वह घबरा गया और जैसे ही उसने अपना सिर झुकाया और अपने घुटनों पर रखा, उसने एक अजीब आवाज सुनी।
उसने इधर-उधर देखने की कोशिश की और उसे अपनी ही उम्र की एक लड़की मिली। लड़की ने एक ढीला बनियान पहना हुआ था और अपने एक कंधे पर एक बोरी टांगी थी, जिसमें उसने प्लास्टिक के कपों को इकट्ठा किया था जिन्हें उसने मंच से उठाया था।
लड़की ने उससे पूछा कि वह यहाँ कैसे आया लेकिन वेलू ने कोई जवाब नहीं दिया। उसने उसे अपना नाम तो बताया लेकिन एक अजनबी को यह बताने से हिचक रहा था कि वह घर से भाग गया था क्योंकि वह अपने पिता द्वारा हर रोज पीटे जाने से तंग आ गया था।
वह अब और नहीं सह सकता था कि उसके पिता ने सब पैसे छीन लिए जो उसने और उसकी बहनों ने कमाए थे और उन्हें शराब पीने के लिए खर्च दिया था। अचानक, उसने महसूस किया कि उसका पेट उसे चुभ रहा है क्योंकि उसने उन दो दिनों में ज्यादा कुछ नहीं खाया था।
चेहरे पर अजीब अभिव्यक्ति ने लड़की को स्पष्ट कर दिया, जिसने फिर उसे भोजन में मदद करने की पेशकश की। वह उठी और चलने लगी।
पहले तो वेलू को यकीन नहीं था कि उसे उसका पीछा करना चाहिए, लेकिन फिर उसने सोचा कि उसके पास और कहीं जाने को नहीं है , इसलिए वह भी उठा और उसकी गति का मिलान किया। उन्होंने चलते यातायात के बीच एक अंतर खोजने के लिए थोड़ा इंतजार किया ताकि वे सड़क पार कर सकें। हवा में धुएँ और धूल ने वेलू का सिर घुमा दिया। वेलू सड़क पार करने से हिचकिचा रहा था लेकिन लड़की किसी तरह उसे खींचकर दूसरी तरफ ले गई। फिर वे सड़क के किनारे चलने लगे जहाँ वेलू ने विभिन्न साइन बोर्ड देखे।
वह कुछ भी नहीं पढ़ सकता था जो उन पर लिखा था क्योंकि यह सब अंग्रेजी में था लेकिन उसने तस्वीरें जरूर देखीं। टार से निकलने वाली गर्मी से उसके नंगे पैर जल गए। गाओं की मिटटी वाली सड़क से शहर की सड़क विपरीत थी । फिर वे एक पुल की तरफ मुड़ गए जहां वेलू रुक कर नीचे झाँकने लगा। जया ने उसे दीवारों वाली बड़ी इमारत के बारे में चेतावनी दी।
उसने कहा कि अगर वह सावधान नहीं रहा, तो वह वहां जाकर सलाखों की गिनती करेगा । वेलू उस इमारत पर तमिल चिन्ह पढ़ने में कामयाब रहा, जिस पर सेंट्रल जेल लिखा था।.
एक घंटे की पैदल यात्रा के बाद, वे एक विशाल इमारत के सामने पहुँचे, जिसमें श्री राजराजेश्वरी प्रसन्ना कल्याण मंडपम और दूल्हे और दुल्हन के नाम बताए गए थे।
पहले तो वेलू ने सोचा कि उन्हें अंदर जाकर खाना मिलेगा , लेकिन उसकी उच्च उम्मीदों के बावजूद, जया ने उसे उस इमारत के पीछे ले जाकर वास्तविकता दिखाई, जहां हवा में सड़ी हुई गंध थी।
वे एक कचरा बिन देख सकते थे। जया को वेलू के लिए एक गाला हुआ केला और एक वड़ा मिला जो इसे खाने के लिए अनिच्छुक था। जया ने उसे आश्वासन दिया कि उसने केवल अछूता भोजन चुना है और इस से ज़ादा वह कुछ नहीं कर सकती क्योंकि उसके पास उसे खिलाने के लिए पैसे नहीं हैं। वेलू विरोध नहीं कर सका क्योंकि उसका पेट उसे चुभ रहा था। उसने इसे खा लिया और तुरंत बेहतर महसूस किया। जया ने उससे कहा कि वह तब तक इंतजार कर सकता है जब तक कि अंदर के लोग अपना दोपहर का भोजन पूरा नहीं कर लेते लेकिन उसे काम पर जाना पड़ा।
वेलू ने उसका पीछा किया क्योंकि उसके पास जाने के लिए और कोई जगह नहीं थी और उसके लिए, वह लड़की काफी जानकारी रखती थी । वह उसके पीछे दौड़ने लगा और उसका नाम पूछा जो उसने उसे बताया था। फिर वे करीब आधे घंटे तक घूमते रहे और ट्रिप्लिकेन पहुंचे। यहाँ वेलू द्वारा देखि गई अब तक की सबसे अजीब झोंपड़ियां एक कतार में थीं ।
वे धातु की चादरों, टायरों, लकड़ी और प्लास्टिक से बानी थी । उनके गांव में उनके पास केवल मिट्टी और ताड़ के पत्तों से बने घर थे।
जया अपने लिए एक नई बोरी लेने के लिए झोपड़ी के अंदर चली गई क्योंकि उसकी बोरी भर गई थी । उसने वेलू से कहा कि उसकी मदद करे और उसे भी एक बोरी और एक छड़ी सौंप दी ।
वेलू भ्रमित हो गया क्योंकि उसे नहीं पता था कि वह उससे इन सब चीजों के साथ क्या करवाना चाहती है। उसने केवल एक जमींदार के खेत में काम किया था जहाँ वह गायों को देखने के लिए ले जाता था।
दुर्भाग्य से, शहर में कोई किसान नहीं थे। जया ने उसे बताया कि उसने जो किया उसे कूड़ा बीनना कहा गया और उन्होंने कागज, प्लास्टिक और कांच खोजने के लिए कचरे को छाँट लिया, जिसे उन्होंने आगे जाम बाजार जग्गू को बेच दिया।
वेलू अभी भी असमंजस में था कि कोई कूड़ा-करकट क्यों खरीदना चाहेगा। जया ने विस्तार से बताया कि जग्गू ने इसे आगे कारखानों को बेच दिया और उसके पास अब बर्बाद करने के लिए और समय नहीं था क्यूंकि उसे काम पे जाना था । वेलू अनिच्छा से इसे तब तक करने के लिए तैयार हो गया जब तक कि वह खुद के लिए एक बेहतर नौकरी नहीं पा लेता।
Children at work- Lesson and Explanation
Passage – When the Kanyakumari Express pulled in at Chennai Central, it took Velu some time to get off. When he finally stood on the platform, his legs felt wobbly, as if he was still on a moving train. “Oy, out of the way!” A porter went by with a loaded trolley. Velu jumped aside.
Pulled in– arrived
Porter– a person employed to carry luggage and other loads, especially in a railway station, airport, hotel or market
Explanation of the Above Passage – Velu could not get off the Kanyakumari Express (train) easily when it arrived at the Chennai Central station. His legs felt unsteady as if he was still in a moving train when he got off and stood on the platform. One generally gets this feeling after travelling in a train. As he stood there, a porter came hurriedly with a loaded trolley asking Velu to step aside. Velu got out of his way.
Passage – He sat on a bench on the platform, putting his small bundle down. In all his eleven years, he had never seen so many people, except once a year at the fair in his village. People walked by, bumping into him with their suitcases. A voice announced something on a loudspeaker. Near him a group of people sat on their luggage, looking at a TV hanging from the roof. The noise was terrible.
Explanation of the Above Passage – He found a small bench on the platform, sat on it and kept his bundle down. There were so many people around him and he had never seen a lot of people together except only once every year at the village fair. People passed by him and rammed into him with their suitcases. He heard an announcement on the loudspeaker which he probably did not understand. People even sat on their luggage around him, as they looked at the TV that hung from the roof. The noises were horrifying.
Passage – Velu put his head down on his knees, feeling miserable and exhausted. He had run away from his village two days ago. For two days he had eaten nothing but some peanuts and a piece of jaggery. In his bundle he carried a shirt, a towel and a comb.
He had walked for most of the first day to Kanur and then got on the train to Chennai. Velu had no money for a ticket but luckily the ticket collector didn’t come to the unreserved compartment. He had tried to sleep on the floor near the door. A group of men next to him had played cards and shouted all night.
Explanation of the Above Passage – Velu kept his head on his knees. He was sad and tired as he had run away from his home two days earlier. In those two days, he only ate a few peanuts and a chunk of jaggery. The small bundle that he carried with him consisted of a shirt, towel and comb.
Of those two days, he was almost on foot for the first day as he went to Kanur. After that, he boarded a train to Chennai without a ticket. He did not have any money. Luckily for him, the ticket collector did not check the unreserved department. He tried sleeping on the floor near the door but couldn’t because a group of men sitting near him played cards and made noise all night.
Passage – “Aiy! What, new to town eh?” called out a rough voice. Velu opened his eyes. There were a lot of people standing around, but nobody was looking at him. “Here! Aiy!” He turned around. Behind him was a girl around his own age, wearing a long banian that came down to her knees. Her hair was stiff and brownish and she had a huge sack on one shoulder. She was picking up dirty plastic cups from the floor and stuffing them into her sack. Why is she calling me, thought Velu. And why is a girl wearing a banian?
“No need to stare stupidly. What’s your name?”
“Velu,” muttered Velu, looking away.
“So Mr Velu,” said the girl, looking at his bundle. “Run away from home?”
Sack– a large bag made of a strong material such as hessian, thick paper, or plastic, used for storing and carrying goods
Explanation of the Above Passage – Suddenly, Velu heard a rough voice saying “Aiy! What, new to town eh?”. Upon hearing this, he opened his eyes and looked around to see who said it, but no one was looking at him. He heard the voice again from behind, telling him to look there. As he turned back he saw a girl of almost his age wearing a loose banian that was so big that it almost reached her knees. Her hair was hardened and somewhat brown in colour. She carried a big bag on her shoulder in which she put all the dirty cups she collected from the floor. Velu wondered why she was talking to him and why she was wearing a loose banian (banian is generally worn by males). As Velu was wondering about all this stuff, the girl told him to stop staring at her mindlessly. She asked his name. He told her it was “Velu” while trying not to make eye contact with her. The girl noticed his small bundle that he carried with him and asked him if he had ran away from home.
Passage – Velu didn’t answer. He didn’t want to tell some strange girl what he had done. He had run away because he couldn’t stand his father beating him for one more day. His father would snatch away all the money Velu and his sisters earned and spend it on drink.
“Don’t think I don’t know. This place is full of children like you. So what are you going to do here? Become rich?” She sat down next to him. Velu shifted away slightly. He felt hunger pinching him and pressed his stomach with a grimace.
“Hungry?” asked the girl. “You won’t get food by sitting here glumly, making faces. I can find some if you want.”
Grimace– an ugly, twisted expression on a person’s face, typically expressing disgust, pain, or wry amusement
Glumly- in a depressed way
Explanation of the Above Passage – When she asked Velu if he left his home and ran away, Velu chose not to answer. He chose not to share it with someone unfamiliar. He had actually run away because he had had enough from his father hitting him and could not take it for one more day. His father would take away all the money Velu and his sisters earned to pay for his drinks.
The girl continued to talk and told him not to think that she is unaware of people running away from their homes. She in fact, told him that the place had too many children like him. She asked him what he was going to do there and if his intention was to become rich, like most children. As she spoke, she sat beside him. Velu moved away a bit. Velu was extremely hungry by that time and could even feel a pain in his stomach because of it. As he pressed his stomach with a painful expression on his face, the girl asked him if he was hungry. She told him that he would not have any luck with food if he continued sitting there with a depressed face. Furthermore, she even offered to help him with food.
Passage – She picked up her sack and started to walk away. Velu stayed on the bench. What should he do? Should he follow this girl? Where was she going to take him? She was disappearing into the crowd, so he had to make up his mind quickly. Alright, he decided. Anyway I have no idea where to go. He jumped up and ran after her. She wasn’t even looking back to see where he was.
Explanation of the Above Passage – Once she finished talking, she got up, picked up her sack and began walking. Velu, on the other hand, continued sitting on the bench. He was not sure if he should follow her. He was unaware of where the girl would take her but he had to make a decision instantly because the girl was about to disappear in the crowd. He thought to himself that he did not have anywhere else to go otherwise also so he finally made up his mind and ran after her to catch up with her speed. The girl did not even bother to check if he was able to follow her.
Passage – He caught up with the girl as she was leaving the station. When they got to the road, Velu found that the vehicles kept coming and never stopped for anyone. Smoke and dust flew at him from all sides, making his head spin. They had to wait for a long time before they could find a gap to run through. Velu kept hesitating and the girl finally dragged him to the other side.
Explanation of the Above Passage – Once he decided to go after the girl, he made up to her as she almost left the station. As soon as they reached the road, Velu noticed that the traffic did not stop for anyone. The pollution from smoke and the dust came to him from each side, which made him feel dizzy. It took them a while to find enough space to be able to cross the road. Till then, they had to wait. Velu was not very confident about crossing the road in the midst of the moving vehicles but the girl pulled him and made it to the other side of the road.
Passage – “What do you think you’re doing? Grazing cows? If you stand around in the middle of the road like that, you’ll be chutney.”
Velu’s heart was still beating fast. He looked back at Central Station and the traffic speeding by. How had they managed to come through that? They walked along the side of the road under some huge signboards. Velu looked up at the pictures: banians, car tyres, pens, a woman holding a box. The writing was all in English, so he didn’t know what it meant
Explanation of the Above Passage – The girl told him that he needed to be fast as it is not something like grazing cows that one does slowly and patiently. She mentioned that if he stood in the middle of the road for that long, he would not come out in one piece and would probably be turned into chutney. On the other hand, Velu’s heart was racing. He was surprised when he looked back at the Central station and the traffic that they just came out of. He could not believe that he managed to come alive out of the speeding traffic. Then as they moved along the length of the road, they saw huge signboards over them. Velu couldn’t understand what was written on them because it was all in English but he definitely saw the pictures of banians, car tyres, pens and a woman holding a box on them.
Passage – The girl turned onto a wide bridge and walked up. Velu stopped and peeped over the railing. Under him, the road ran into the city. In the distance he could see huge buildings and towers and more roads. “See that big building with the wall around it? If you’re not careful, you’ll soon be counting bars there.” The girl grinned and pointed at a huge building. Velu squinted and read the Tamil sign, Central Jail. “Why? I haven’t done anything wrong.” “You don’t have to do anything. Just don’t get caught, that’s all.”
Peeped over– To glance or peer shyly, quickly, or inconspicuously over the top of something
Grinned– smile broadly
Squinted– look at someone or something with one or both eyes partly closed in an attempt to see more clearly or as a reaction to strong light
Explanation of the Above Passage – The girl took a turn to a wide bridge and began walking. Velu paused to look over the railing. He saw a road under him that connected to the city. A bit far away, he could see tall buildings, towers and some more roads.
The girl warned Velu that, if he was not careful, he might end up counting bars in the big building that has a wall around it. She pointed at the building as she smiled broadly. Velu tried to read the Tamil sign that said ‘Central Jail’ and asked the girl why he would be in there if he had not done anything wrong. The girl told him that he did not have to do anything except being careful and not getting caught.
Passage – What does she mean, Velu wondered. Meanwhile the girl was already heading down the bridge with the sack on her shoulder. What was in it? He had seen her putting plastic cups into it at the station.
“What are you carrying in that bag?”
“Things. Bottles, paper.”
Velu wondered what she was doing with them, but he felt shy to ask any more questions.
It was still morning but the sun blasted down on the tar and Velu’s bare feet burned. It was not like walking on a mud road. He was soaked with sweat. He tried hard to walk in the shade and keep up with the girl at the same time. She walked really fast. How far away was the food?
Tar– a dark, thick flammable liquid distilled from wood or coal, consisting of a mixture of hydrocarbons, resins, alcohols, and other compounds. It is used in road-making and for coating and preserving timber
Blasted– (here) strike
Explanation of the Above Passage – Velu thought to himself what she meant when she told him all this. As he wondered, she kept walking down the bridge with her sack. Velu asked himself what was in the sack. He had seen her pick plastic cups at the station. Then he finally gathered the courage to ask it aloud. She told him that she puts things like bottles and paper in her sack. This made Velu think why she collected these but he was too hesitant to clear out any further queries.
It was not yet afternoon, yet the sun glared and heated the road that caused Velu’s naked feet to burn. It was nothing similar to walking on a mud road. He was sweating even though he tried to walk in shade. At the same time time, he kept up with the girl as she was speedy. He wondered how long they have to walk before they get to the food.
Passage – After almost an hour of walking, they stopped in front of a big building. Sri Rajarajeshwari Prasanna Kalyana Mandapam read Velu slowly. A sign with letters made of flowers said, Groom: J. V. Vinayagan, Bride: Rani. Velu stared at the big cars parked outside. One of the cars had a flower garland and roses taped onto it. The girl looked around, pulled one off quickly and stuck it in her hair.
“Come on,” she said.
“Are we going to eat here?” asked Velu, looking at the huge hall and the people inside.
“Hopes!” said the girl shaking her thumb under his nose.
Mandapam– (in southern India) a temple porch; a temporary platform set up for weddings and religious ceremonies
Shaking her thumb under his nose– express scorn or ridicule
Explanation of the Above Passage – They walked for about an hour to reach a tall building. They stood in front of it as Velu slowly read “Sri Rajarajeshwari Prasanna Kalyana Mandapam”. There was a sign on which the names of the couple were written. It said, Groom: J. V. Vinayagan, Bride: Rani, in letters made of flowers. Velu kept looking at the lavish cars that stood outside. Out of those, one car was decorated with roses and garlands taped onto it. The girl scanned the surroundings to make sure no one was looking before she plucked a flower and stuck it in her hair.
The girl said, “Come on” after which Velu asked her if they were going to eat inside the building. The girl shook her thumb under his nose to make fun of him and ridiculed the high expectations of the boy.
Passage – She led him behind the hall. There was a big garbage bin overflowing with rubbish. Two goats were standing on the pile, fighting for a banana leaf. A cloud of flies buzzed around their legs. There was a rotten smell in the air. The girl picked up a squashy banana and held it out to Velu.
“Here’s your food.” Velu was shocked.
“Are we going to eat their leftovers?” “Chey! What do you think I am? A dog? I only take untouched food. Here, some more, catch!” She threw him a vada. Velu looked at it with distaste.
Squashy– easily crushed or squeezed into a different shape; having a soft consistency
Explanation of the Above Passage – She showed him the way to the back of the hall. They could see a huge garbage bin flooded with junk and leftovers. Two goats stood on the garbage hill as they confronted each other for a banana leaf. Their legs were surrounded by a lot of flies. One could sense the rotten smell around it. The girl found an overripe banana that she gave to Velu as she told him that this was his food. Velu was shocked on seeing the banana and thus, he asked her if they were going to eat the leftovers. The girl replied in disgust and asked him if he thinks of her as a dog who would eat leftovers and crumbs. She told him that she only picked the uneaten food. She told him to catch some more of it as she tossed a vada at him. He looked at the food with distaste and disgust.
Passage – “Come on, hero, eat it! You think I like it? I told you I’ll find you something to eat. Don’t think I have money to buy food for you. You’d better eat what you get until you have your own money.” Velu hesitated, but his stomach squeezed him again. He gulped down the banana and vada. His stomach felt better immediately. He could have eaten at least ten times more, but the girl could find only one more banana which she ate herself.
Gulped– swallow (drink or food) quickly or in large mouthfuls, often audibly
Explanation of the Above Passage – The girl told him to go ahead and eat it. She further mentioned that she doesn’t like that either. She specified that she told him she would find him something to eat and not that she had money to buy food for him. She told him to adjust with whatever he finds to eat till he began earning.
Velu paused in indecision at first, but then he was starving, so he swallowed the banana and vada quickly. He began feeling better in his stomach right away. He was so hungry that his stomach had the capacity to take in ten times more food, but they could only find one more banana which the girl ate herself.
Passage – “It’s too early, they’ve only eaten tiffin. If you’re still hungry, you’ll have to wait for them to finish lunch. You can wait if you want. I have to work, I’m going.” She picked up a couple of bottles from the heap and threw it into her sack. Then she walked off. Velu panicked. He realised that if the girl left him, he had no idea where he was and what to do. It was better to stick to her, she seemed to know her way around. He ran after her again. “Aiy!” he called. He did not even know the girl’s name. “Aiy, what is your name?” he asked hurrying behind her. She stopped and turned around.
“Oho! So you’ve been following me around without even knowing my name. Jaya.”
“I’m not following you.”
“What then? Who got you food?”
“Can I come with you? Where are you going?”
“Come if you want. This bag is full, I have to go home to get another one.”
Explanation of the Above Passage – The girl told him that to get their hands on some more food, they will have to wait till the people inside the building finished their lunch. It was too early and they had only eaten their tiffin by then. She told him he could wait for it but she had to go and work now. She went on and picked up a few bottles from the pile and put it in her sack. As she began walking, Velu panicked as he realised that, if he did not go with the girl, he would have nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. He thought it would be best for him to stay with her as she knew how to survive. Thus, he ran after her and asked her name. She teased him a bit by saying that he had been following her everywhere even when he didn’t know her name. She told him that her name was Jaya. Velu specified that he had not been following her. She replied by asking if he had not been following her, then what was he doing. She was the one who got him food. Velu further asked him where she was going and if he could come with her. Jaya said that she was going home to pick up a new bag as the current one was full and that he could come along if he wished.
Passage – Jaya and Velu walked along the roads for half an hour, until they came to a bridge across a dirty trickle of water.
“We are in Triplicane now. See, that’s Buckingham Canal,” said Jaya.Velu stared. This was a canal? Near some puddles of water was a row of the strangest huts he had ever seen. They were built out of all sorts of things — metal sheets, tyres, bricks, wood and plastic. They stood crookedly and looked as if they would fall any moment. “Is this where you live? These houses are strange!” said Velu. “In our village, the houses are made of mud and palm leaves.”
Trickle– (of a liquid) flow in a small stream
Triplicane– Triplicane, also known as Thiruvallikeni, is one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Chennai, India.
Puddles– a small pool of liquid, especially of rainwater on the ground
Crookedly– at an irregular or improper angle.
Explanation of the Above Passage – Both of them walked for around half an hour till they reached a bridge across a dirty stream of water. Jaya told him,that they had reached the Triplicane neighbourhood and she also showed him the Buckingham Canal. Velu looked at it continuously and asked if it was really a canal. There, near some random pools of water, there was a line of the weirdest huts he had ever seen. They were made of things like metal sheets, tyres, bricks, wood and plastic. They were not straight and were made at an irregular angle. It felt like they could lose their shape any minute. Velu asked Jaya if she lived there, because the huts looked strange. He further told her that he had only seen houses that are made out of mud and palm leaves. It was unusual for him to see houses like these.
Passage – Jaya went around to one of the huts and dumped her sack outside. Then she picked up an empty one. “Let’s go.” She turned to Velu and gave him a shove. “At least help me now. Here, wear these and come with me.” She threw him a pair of old shoes without laces and pushed a sack and a stick into his hands.
Shove– push (someone or something) roughly
Explanation of the Above Passage – Jaya went inside one of those huts, kept her sack outside and found herself a free one. She then turned to Velu, gave him a push and asked him to help her. She gave him a pair of used shoes that did not have any laces and asked him to wear it. She then handed him a sack and a stick.
Passage – Velu was confused. What work did she want him to do with these things? The only work he had ever done was on the landowner’s farm, weeding and taking cows out to graze. “Are there any farms in the city?” he asked Jaya.
She laughed and thumped her stick on the ground. “Farms! There are no farmers here. We are ragpickers.”
“See my sack? Full of things I collected.”
“Collected? From where?” asked Velu.
“From rubbish bins, where else?”
“You collect rubbish?” Velu had never heard of such a thing
“Ayye, blockhead. It’s not any rubbish. Only paper, plastic, glass, such things. We sell it to Jam Bazaar Jaggu.”
Explanation of the Above Passage – Velu was not sure he understood everything that was happening. He did not know what type of work Jaya expected him to do with a sack and a stick. The only type of work he had ever done before was on a farm owned by a landowner. He used to take the cows for grazing and did herding.
He asked Jaya if there were any farms in Chennai. Jaya found it amusing as she stroked her stick on the ground and told him that there were no farmers here and all they did was ragpicking. Velu did not understand. Jaya told her about the things she had collected in her sack. By this time, Velu had begun to panic and he further asked her from where she had collected all those things. She told him that she had sorted them out from rubbish bins. Velu thought that she collected garbage but she corrected him and told him that she only gathered paper, plastic, glass and such stuff which she later sold to Jam Bazaar Jaggu.
Passage – Velu was puzzled. He had heard of people throwing away rubbish. But why would anyone want to buy rubbish?
“Who’s Jam Bazaar Jaggu? Why’s he buying all this?”
“You think he buys it for show? He sells it to a factory. Come on, I don’t have time to waste, like you.” Velu did not move. He hadn’t run away and come to this new place to dig through garbage bins.
Jaya poked at him with her stick. “Look here!” she shouted. “If someone gets there before us we don’t get anything. Don’t just stand there, posing. Big hero. I’m trying to help you. Who filled your stomach today?” Velu scratched his head and sighed. I’ll do it for now, he thought, until I find a better job.
Explanation of the Above Passage – Velu was extremely confused at this moment. He could not understand why someone would buy rubbish because people generally want to get rid of garbage.
He asked Jaya about Jam Bazaar Jaggu and his motive behind buying all the rubbish. She clarified that he does not buy it for showcasing it but instead, sells it to a factory. She was in a hurry and told him she did not have much time to waste unlike him and went away. Velu stood still as he thought to himself that he hadn’t run away to search through garbage dumps. Next moment, he was poked by Jaya with her stick and told that they need to be there before anyone else, otherwise, they would not get anything. She told him that she is only trying to help and also made him recall that she is the one who fed him earlier that day.
Velu scratched his head as he heaped a sigh and thought that he would do it till he finds himself a better job.
Children at work- Question and Answers
1. Velu stood on the platform but he felt “as if he was still on a moving train”. Why?
A.It took Velu some time to get off from the train after it arrived. He had run away from his home. He left his home two days ago out of which he spent almost one whole day walking to Kannur. He couldn’t even sleep in the train because of some noisy men. Thus, when he got off the train, on the platform, he felt his legs wobbly as if he was still on a moving train out of exhaustion and fatigue. Also, one tends to feel this way after travelling in a train for long hours.
2. What made him feel miserable?
A. Velu had left his home two days ago and come to Chennai, a completely new town. He did not know anyone there and did not have any idea regarding what he would do there. He was exhausted from all the walking and travelling. He had not slept or eaten anything in those two days except for some peanuts and a piece of jaggery. Thus, he felt miserable.
3. (i) Velu travelled without a ticket. Why?
A. Velu had no money for a ticket. Thus, he boarded the train to Chennai without a ticket.
(ii) How did he escape the ticket collector’s attention?
A. Luckily, the ticket collector didn’t come to the unreserved compartment where Velu was and this is how he managed to travel without a ticket.
4. Why had Velu run away from home?
A. Velu had run away because he couldn’t stand his father beating him for one more day. His father would snatch away all the money Velu and his sisters earned and spend it on drinks.
5. Why did he decide to follow the ‘strange’ girl?
A. Velu was not sure if he should follow her. He was unaware of where the girl would take her but he had to make a decision instantly because the girl was about to disappear in the crowd. He thought to himself that he did not have anywhere to go otherwise also so he finally made up his mind and got up from the bench to follow the ‘strange’ girl.
6. Can Velu read Tamil and English? How do you know?
A. Velu couldn’t read English as he was unable to read the signboards that were in English when they walked along the length of the road. Velu understood Tamil as he could read the Tamil sign on the huge building that said, “Central Jail”.
7. “If you are not careful, you will soon be counting bars there,” the girl said.
(i) What is she referring to?
A. When she said, “If you are not careful, you will soon be counting bars there,” she was referring to the Central Jail.
(ii) What does she mean when she says “If you are not careful…”? (She says something a little later which means the same. Find that sentence.)
A. When she says “If you are not careful, you will soon be counting bars there,”, she meant that if he were not cautious enough, he might get caught and end up in jail. The line she says a little later which means quite the same is “You don’t have to do anything. Just don’t get caught, that’s all.”.
8. (i) Where did the girl lead Velu to?
A. The girl led Velu to a bug building named Sri Rajarajeshwari Prasanna Kalyana Mandapam. It was a place where people got married. She meant to take him behind the building for food.
(ii) What did they get to eat?
A. She found a squishy banana and a vada for Velu. Later, she found one more banana that she ate herself.
9. What work did she do? Think of a one-word answer
A. The girl was a ‘rag-picker’.
10. (i) What material are the ‘strange’ huts made out of?
A. The ‘strange’ huts were built out of all sorts of things — metal sheets, tyres, bricks, wood and plastic.
(ii) Why does Velu find them strange?
A. Velu had never seen huts made out of things like metal sheets, tyres, etc. Back at his place, they were made of mud and palm leaves. Thus, when he saw the huts in Chennai, he found them very strange.
11. What sort of things did Jaya and children like her collect and what did they do with those things?
A. Jaya and other children like her collected paper, plastic, glass and such stuff which they later sell to Jam Bazaar Jaggu who further sold it to a factory.
12. Is Velu happy or unhappy to find work? Give a reason for your answer
A. Velu was unhappy when he found that he would have to work as a ‘rag-picker’. He thought to himself that he had not run away from his village to search through garbage bins. Back at home, he worked at a landowner’s farm and intended to get work on a farm in Chennai too but there were no farmers in Chennai. He only agreed to do the work till he found himself a better job.
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