There are millions of children in India today who spend their childhood on the streets, in railway stations and jail-like shelters, living on the edge and taking each day as it comes. Some have been abandoned; others have chosen to run away from harsher realities at home; yet others have been born on the streets and know no other life.
In Midway Station child-rights activist Lara Shankar records the voices of eleven such children living in shelters in Delhi. We meet, among others, Mohan, who hopped on to a train in Chennai when he was four to escape from his stepmother; Allam, who sends money to his mother whenever he can and visits her in Bihar during Id; and Rani, who thinks life in the shelter is too comfortable and looks back with nostalgia on her days as a domestic servant.
What emerges from these narratives is a nightmarish world of poverty and neglect, rape and murder, Mafiosi-like gangs and police brutality. Yet there are redemptive stories of courage too, of friendships made and kindnesses repaid. Poignant and hard-hitting, these real-life stories of homeless children are testimony to their resilience in the face of adversity, their will to carry on and determination to build a life of dignity. The author discovers a world most of us close our eyes to. It is the world of homeless children living rootless, incomplete lives. Midway Station is a work of care and concern and an effort to make all of us think of the invisible and underprivileged child, who is also the face of tomorrow’s India.’ —Shabana Azmi, actor and social worker