The Railway Children

By Geraldine Bane

At Mumbai Central Station

In the middle of Bombay

Thousands of weary passengers

Trod through there night & day

There are more than one hundred stations

dotted through this city

That are home to countless children

who live in hope of scraps & pity

As the passengers just ignore him

A young boy makes his way

To mingle through the crowd

& earn his pittance for the day

He came here many years ago

He was just six or seven

Believing that Mumbai

Could be his ‘Bollywood’ heaven

Now Siraj is ten years old

This station is his home

His kin made up of other kids

His bed is made of stone

Siraj is one of 11 million children

Who in India are in need of care

Many you’ll find in stations

With that gaunt & haunting stare

Dressed in rags & barefoot

With nothing to his name

To criminals & to predators

These children are ‘fair game’

Sweeping floors & begging

Make up most of Siraj’s day

& sometimes he shines the shoes

of rich Indian men who pay

Once a lady threw herself

In the path of a coming train

Police made Siraj gather her bones

For a measley monitary gain

There are moves to take them off the rails

But the problem is so vast

That India’s railway children

Have become their countries poorest caste