Introduction to Lost Spring
The text highlights the insufferable trials of youthful lives of children who are forced to lose the days of spring to exploitation and child labour. Even though India provides constitutional protection to children from child labour, it is openly flouted and abused.
From begging to rag picking, children are engaged in all sorts of hazardous, unhygienic and exploitative forms of labour. They are subjected to torture, intimidation, physical abuse and abject poverty in order to survive on slim pickings. Anees Jung describes the condition and life of two such young brave hearts who despite their pitiable sufferance, are full of dreams and spring.
The first boy is named a Sahab-e-Azam or literally the monarch of the world. He is a rag picker who lives n the streets of Delhi. His family had to leave Dhaka after storm and floods destroyed their fields. Azam scours the dirty litter of the Delhi streets every day in search of the treasure that could change his life forever.
Even though older pickers look for food etc the young kids are just happy and fascinated by the colourful wrapping and packaging of the garbage. That is the travesty of our independent and young nation where there are millions of young Azam struggling to find proper meals let alone good education and safe homes.
Forced to earn his keep, Azam starts working at a teas stall where he is subjected to inhuman treatment and abuse. He has to forego his ownership of his spring and his dreams in lieu of the imprisonment of child labour.
The second story is about Mukesh who also lives in Delhi. His family is from Firozabad and is employed in the glass making industry since many a generation. His father and a long list of ancestors have paid the price of being in such a hazardous occupation, losing their vision at a young age.
Mukesh, too, is involved in glass blowing and vulnerable to the dark snare of blindness. But unlike thousands of young children who are resigned to their fate, Mukesh dreams of ruling his own destiny. He loves cars and wants to have one of his own someday.
He even goes to a garage in order to learn about cars and engines. Even though the place is quite far from his place, he walks every day to it and hopes to change his fortune by sheer will, tenacity and power of his dreams.