And as I heard of state governments all over the country, calling migrant workers back, industrialists paying advances and promising them big bucks, builders even flying them back, I wondered whether the migrant worker had now got his rightful place in the sun, and imagined I was visiting them in their village. “Here’s your plane ticket!” I said as I along with my builder friend, showed him tickets for his family to return, “And we’ve also seen your little son gets a window seat to see the sky!”
“That is all he will ever see!” sighed the immigrant worker, as he pushed the offered plane ticket away.
“Has he ever flown in a plane?” I asked astonished.
“No!” said the mason.
“Then why deprive him of it?” I asked.
“You want him to see a sky he will never reach?”
“Never reach?” asked the builder, “I am giving you back your job, with better accommodation and more perks!”
The immigrant worker opened a news paper and showed it to us, “Your state has decided to reserve 80% of jobs for your sons of the soil,” he whispered, “Jobs, which we hoped our sons and daughters would get one day, for which we work hard atop your dangerously high buildings, risking our lives, staying in small shanty towns, so our children get an education. But finally, the very jobs we want for them is taken away and given on a platter, to those who did not want and to the children of those who refused to do our menial work! Is that fair?”
“You don’t want this?” asked the surprised builder, holding out all the tickets for the mason’s salary, “when I was a child I dreamt of one day, flying up into the sky!”
“You want my child to fly into the sky, and realise it will never be his?” asked the mason incredulously, “Is that what you want me to tell him, as he looks out of the window? That even though he is an Indian, he is less Indian in your state?”
The builder looked at me and I looked back at him, and slowly we put our heads down in shame, as the migrant worker continued, “Day in and day out, your people look at us like refugees from another country! Are we? Isn’t the whole of India one? Isn’t the freedom to travel to any part of the country, and settle down, also give us the right to the same benefits every Indian gets?”
The builder put the plane tickets, including the window seat one back into his pocket, and we both walked away, as we heard the happy sounds of his children playing in the filth and dirt, somewhere in the background..!
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