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A new series on migrants in urban India
Who buys these balloons? How much do you earn in a day?
Small kids buy balloons. The big ones are for `20 each and the small ones for `10. Sometimes people give me money just like that, without buying balloons. With the extra money, I buy a patty, cold drink or a barfi. I usually earn `500 a day, which I give to my mother.
What time do you start?
My eldest brother Shadab drops me at the mall at 5 pm with 15-20 big balloons and about 100 small ones. I stay here until I sell all of them. If I don’t manage to sell all of them, my father will break my bones. My elder brothers, Haider Ali and Saad, stand near the side entrance, while I stand near the front entrance.
Do you like playing with balloons?
No. But I like the Donald Duck balloon I sell. I watch that one on TV.
Have you ever been inside the mall?
Once, with my brothers. We roamed around, climbed the stairs to the top and came out. I didn’t have money to buy anything.
Which school do you go to? Who do you want to be when you grow up?
I study in Saraswati school. I want to be in the military: go to the mountains, use machine guns, and go “gad-gad-gad”. Everyone on TV does it.
What does your father do?
We are from Barabanki. Papa fixes punctures of bicycle tyres at Dainik Jagran chowraha. Mummy is a domestic help. We’re six brothers and a sister — Shadab, Nasreen, Sohail, Arbaaz, Saad, Haider and me.
When do you do homework and when do you play?
When I return home, I write ABCD. Sometimes, I play after school in the park near my home.