ARSHAD, 11, works in a silk reeling unit at Ramanagaram. He stopped attending school when he was in Class 3 and went on to became a reeler in order to help repay a loan taken by his father for a relative's wedding. He has two younger siblings.
Arshad started working as a cocoon cook three years ago. Since then he has been involved in all the work at the unit -- cooking cocoons, cleaning the waste and reeling. He leaves home at 8 a.m. to return at 8-30 p.m. or even later. He stands and works fo r practically the entire 12-hour workday, with only a 15-minute break for lunch. The loud noise of the machines and the deafening Hindi film music blaring away resonate in his ears even in his dreams. Often he asks people to speak louder so that he can h ear them clearly. Arshad has bronchial asthma. He has an ear discharge and scabies and is in a constant state of exhaustion, often having to stay at home owing to ill-health. Arshad says he and his brother had almost repaid the loan, when his father agai n borrowed money. The father used the money to buy liquor. He does not work.
Arshad attends the local child development centre run by MAYA regularly and wants to go back to school. He says he is tired now. He wants to study and grow up to be a teacher so that he can then teach other children about the realities of life.