|Dont erazeus out…|
| Deccan Herald » Metro Life – Thurs
|Nina C George|
|Hundreds of street children in the City are addicted to Erazex, a correction fluid used to correct typos, commonly called whitener. Its their wonder drug, their only route to salvation and freedom from hunger, poverty and abuse.|
This stark fact has been discovered, captured and exposed in a six minute video documentary shot and put together by J Suhas, secretary YMCA and social worker in the City. In his video entitled, ‘Don’t Eraz-us,’ he has filmed these children who live in an atmosphere of unending physical and mental strain. Many of them rummage through the garbage to find food, others go hungry for days, drinking water or taking to drugs to
More than 50 percent of the children in Suhas’s documentary are those who have run away from their homes because of conflicts in the family and lack of love and attention. There are also social factors such as pressure from peer groups to move away from home and the attraction of a city life as compared to the life in rural areas.
The video captures unedited their life, mannerisms, bad habits, livelihood and their struggle for survival. These children eke out a pitiable living on the streets. They double up as rag pickers, vendors, shoe-shine boys and porters. They hang around bus stations, railway stations and do odd jobs like carrying passengers’ bags. As rag pickers they make Rs 100 to Rs 150 a day which is enough for them to eat and “buy two bottles of Eraz-ex which they consume on daily basis. “They empty the contents of the bottle onto a cloth and sniff it off and on. It gives them a high and they doze off” says Suhas.
From his interaction with a cross-section of these children, Suhas has understood the painful fact that they yearn for freedom and just want to be left undisturbed. He says: “They know not what it is to be disciplined and hygienic. They do not get an opportunity to take a bath for several days. Because of the unhygienic conditions they live in, they are prone to contract skin diseases — scabies, ulcers and rashes.”
The video has children confessing their addiction to Erazex. While one boy was heard saying that he would go crazy without Erazex, another child says after a few sniffs he looks up to the sky and sees God. This doesn’t make him feel all that lonely.
Following their path Suhas discovered that these children consume Erazex during late evening and at night. Open drains, parks, and empty spaces serve as ideal places where they sit in a large group and sniff off a cloth which they pass from one person to another. “There’s a dog accompanying every gang. These are good watch dogs and protect these children from police, underworld gangsters or by older street boys who bully them and use them to achieve their own ends,” explains Suhas.
Suhas has shot and archived more than 2000 pictures of street children. He works among them. He says that the general misconception is that street children are addicts, uncontrollable and violent, have no emotions or moral values. This lack of social acceptance is what pushes them away from mainstream society on the fringes of the social system and get into drugs like Erazex. Through his documentary Suhas wishes to sensitise the people and draw their attention toward the problems of street children.
He thinks there is an urgent need to save these children crowding our towns and cities to pick food from garbage cans and live like stray animals and grow up in the world of beggars and crippled crooks and vagrants, and are often pushed into crime and drug abuse by the society itself. They are the victims of crime and some times, of the criminal law.