"Thanks" said Chandu. "You can keep that marble, if you like". Tiblu smiled. They were both back at work, carrying bricks on their heads with a thin padding of cloth separating the bricks from their tender skulls. They ferried the load from the place where they were downloaded from trucks to the building site. The adult labourers recieved thirty five rupees a day whereas the children got only fifteen bucks for their efforts. It was a meagre amount but kids like Chandu & Tiblu had already got used to it.
Tiblu was the only son in his family. He'd a little sister, all of three & hence too young to work. His father was a drunkard & his mother was expecting another child in a couple of months' time. This situation had left Tiblu to fend for his family alone, for then.
Chandu had been a little better off considering that his father & elder brother were both working labourers & his mother worked in people's homes, cleaning dirty dishes & washing clothes. But tragedy had struck when he was just six. The boat ferrying his parents across the river had capcised, drowning all its thirty passengers. His brother had thereafter taken to drinking & soon they were left with no money.
Destiny had brought Chandu & Tiblu together at the Jogbari construction site where they had arrived on the same day in search of work. They had soon become fast friends. Each of the duo was nine years old but they were quite street smart.
Residential apartments were being built at the Jogbari with plans of four fifteen storeyed buildings. There was work for plenty of people. Child labourers working at such places, where their jobs could be hazardous to their health, was quite common, making a complte mockery of the rules & laws. The district officials seemed too busy to look into the matter & if they did, were bribed heavily to prevent any punitive action to be taken in view of the offence. About twenty children worked at Jogbari.