Riding their way to school

Riding their way to school


The desire to study and attend their classes regularly make these children take the ‘rein’ of the ‘tonga’ (horse cart) themselves all the way to their school at Khamaria village in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur-Kheri district, about 150 kilometres from here.
These ten odd children — all aged between eight to 13 years — can be seen riding their tonga every morning by the people and passers-by, who have only praises for their will.

The road to the school is very bad for about three kilometres but the distance is no deterrent nor is the condition of the road. “It is not a problem at all”, says 13-year-old Gurulal Singh, a student of sixth standard. Gurulal, being the eldest of the lot, has to take the rein of the tonga for the maximum distance — ten kilometres. Thereafter, the other boys take over, he said. This routine has been going on for the past three years. Earlier, Gurulal and his brother used to go to the school in a rickshaw. Three years back the rickshaw-puller died and the children found themselves stranded.

Gurulal was even ready to walk to the school but his father bought a horse cart and handed over the ‘rein’ to him. “Once Gurulal started riding his way to the school, the other children also joined and today there are about ten children who travel with Gurulal and his brother to the school”, the proud father said.

Gurulal’s father does not charge anything from the other children. Although the people praise Gurulal and the other children they also apprehend that it is fraught with risks. “They are little children and they have to travel for about 13 kilometres, which is certainly dangerous”, says the village panchayat chief Uttar Verma. But there is no way out. If they have to go to the school they will have to take the risk, the villagers opine.

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