Hawker boys to play Santa to Kolkata street dwellers

December 24th, 2008 - 11:33 am ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Dec 24 (IANS) Throughout the year, these boys sell strawberries, toffees, mouth fresheners, roses and newspapers at city crossings to earn a living. This Christmas eve they will don Santa Claus robes and shower gifts on pavement dwellers.That’s exactly what 14 hawker boys, aged between eight and 15, in the Park Street area of south Kolkata have planned this Christmas.

Despite the fact that they themselves have never received any gift from Santa, the youngsters have planned to place small gifts silently beside the sleeping local pavement dwellers Dec 24 night.

“So what if Santa Claus has never given us any gifts…it’s the rich children who get gifts from him. But that doesn’t mean we can’t play Santa to people who are more deprived than us,” Dipak, 15, one of the hawker boys, told IANS.

Dipak, who sells toffees and mouth fresheners at Park Street crossing, said he and his friends have been planning this since last year.

“Every year when the entire Park Street area celebrates the festival with colours, light, music and gifts, we remain mute spectators. But Christmas is as dear to us as it is to you people. It’s just that we can’t afford to celebrate it.

“Hence last year me and 13 other of my hawker friends decided to celebrate our share of happiness as much as we can afford. As you know, we live in local slums and earn our living by selling small items - that comes to hardly Rs.50 a day.

“Nevertheless, we started saving a part of our earnings and that has now come to Rs.4,500.”

Dipak and his friends have already got gifts for the local pavement dwellers with the money.

“We have decided to put small gifts silently beside 22 pavement dwellers in the Park Street area late Wednesday night, just as Santa does. We have already got the gifts that includes mirror, socks, combs, soaps, toffees, small cakes and plates - all will be wrapped with these red-and-gold papers,” said an excited Dipak as he showed the gifts.

“And, please don’t disclose our plans to the street dwellers now. We want to see their faces light up after they see the gifts Thursday morning. Then we will tell them about our plan,” Dipak requested.

But don’t Dipak and his friends wish to get Christmas gifts themselves?

“Of course we do. In fact, we feel we should have saved more so that we could get gifts for ourselves too. But at the moment we are more concerned about playing Santa and giving gifts than getting some. Who knows, our good work will be rewarded and someone may leave gifts for us too silently this Christmas,” Dipak said.

Asked if the kids will face any objection from police while dropping gifts at late hours, city police deputy commissioner (detective department) Jawed Shamim told IANS: “Why should police have any objection if someone wants to give gifts to people? However, I feel they should intimate the local police station so that police can step in if there is chaos over the gifts.”

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