The children who came to the drop in centre were being encouraged to participate in a play which would be staged on Independence Day. The staffs at the non government organisation (NGO) were demanding, cajoling, pleading and trying every trick in the book to get the children interested. Finally, a motley group of about eight-nine children agreed.
The older ones (all about 10 – 12 years) and the staffs started talking about the storyline. Ideas were strung together – a child with an alcoholic and abusive father, conditions worsening at home, child runs away for a better life, ends up a railway station, feels afraid and lost, is spotted by a didi (NGO staff) who tries to convince him to come to their drop in centre, initially the child resists but eventually agrees to go with the didi feeling hopeful again.
Sounds very familiar, doesn’t it? Well, I was a student social worker then and didn’t know that this was the de facto script for most NGO driven plays.
Anyways, parts were assigned and the acting began. Everybody was making up their lines on the spot and having a blast. A few small scuffles, over real or imaginary slights, broke out as well!
Finally, we were at the last scene. The child and the didi hold hands and walk out together. Everybody clapped. The actors got busy reviewing their performance in phrases that can’t be written here. The staffs just sat down to catch their breath. They were through the first rehearsal. Now, it would get easy.
And then, one of the smaller children (I think he was about six years old) spoke up. “What happens to the child after that?”