The author, Anees Jung analyses the grinding poverty and traditions which condemn the street children to a life of exploitation.

Saheb’s family lives in Seemapuri, a place on the periphery of Delhi yet miles away from it, metaphorically. About 10,000 ragpickers live in structures of
mud, with roofs of tin and tarpaulin, devoid of sewerage, drainage or running water. They live here without an identity, without permits but with ration cards that get their names on voters’ lists and enable them to buy grain. Food is more important for survival than an identity. Wherever they find food, they pitch their tents that become transit homes. Children grow up in them, becoming partners in survival. And survival in Seemapuri means ragpicking. Those who live here are squatters who came from Bangladesh
back in 1971. They left their beautiful land of green fields and rivers because repeated floods swept away their fields and homes leaving them on the verge of starvation. So, they came to India for better livelihood opportunities. Additional Points  Saheb’s full name is ‘Saheb-e-Alam’. He does not know what it means. If he knew its meaning — lord of the universe — he would not believe it. Unaware of what his name represents, he roams the streets with his friends, an army of barefoot boys who appear like the morning birds and disappear at noon.
 People informed the writer, Anees Jung that it was not lack of money but a tradition to stay barefoot. She wondered if this was only an excuse to explain the perpetual state of poverty in the country. She remembered a
story of a boy from Udipi who prayed every morning for a pair of shoes.
 Promises made to poor children are rarely kept. Once the writer asks Saheb to go to school. He replies there is no school in his neighbourhood. She asks half-jokingly whether he will come if she starts a school. He says, “Yes” smiling broadly. This shows that Saheb is interested in going to school. Anees Jung feels embarrassed at having made a false promise. She never intended to start a school.
 For children, garbage has a meaning different from what it means to their parents. Saheb is scrounging for gold in the garbage dumps. Garbage to them is gold. It is their daily bread, a roof over their heads, even if it is a leaking roof. For the children it is wrapped in wonder — sometimes finding a rupee, even a ten-rupee note or even silver coin sometimes. For the elders it is a means of survival.
 Saheb liked ‘Tennis’ game, but he could only watch it standing behind the fence of the neighbourhood club. Once some rich boy gave Saheb his discarded tennis shoes. The fact that there was a hole in one of them did not bother him. For one who had walked barefoot, even shoes with a hole was a dream come true.
 Saheb now works in a tea stall down the road. But he is not happy working at the tea stall. Though he gets 800 Rupees and all his meals, yet he has lost the carefree look. The steel canister seems heavier than the plastic bag he would carry so lightly over his shoulder. The bag was his. The canister belongs to the man who owns the tea shop. Saheb is no longer his own master!
irozabad is dominated by bangle industry. Most families are engaged in making bangles. People have spent generations working around furnaces, welding glass
and making bangles. Mukesh’s family is among them. Working in the glass bangles industry is physically and mentally hazardous but no one dares to do anything else. About 20,000 children work in the glass furnaces with high temperatures, in dingy cells without air and light. Their eyes are more adjusted to the dark than to the light outside. That is why they often end up losing their eyesight before they become adults. There is possibility of skin burn also. They live in stinking lanes choked with garbage, in hovels with crumbling walls, wobbly doors, no windows, crowded with families of humans and animals coexisting in a primeval state. In spite of hard labour, many of them do not enjoy even one full meal in their entire lifetime. The cry of not having money to do anything except carry on the business of making bangles, rings in every home. Years of mind-numbing toil have killed all initiative and the ability to dream. They resign themselves to their fate. Mukesh’s attitude to his situation is, however, different from that of his family and the people of Firozabad. He insists on being his own master. He wants to come out of poverty. He aspires to be a motor mechanic. He is determined to walk to a garage and learn to drive. Unlike his peers he dares to dream. His passion and strong determination would help him break away from tradition and achieve his goal. What forces conspire to keep the workers in the bangle industry of Firozabad in poverty? Poverty, social customs and stigma of caste conspire to keep the workers in the bangle industry of Firozabad in poverty. Sahukars, middlemen, law-keepers, bureaucrats, policemen and politicians exploit these workers and create such a vicious circle that they are unable to break. They are unable to organise themselves into a cooperative because if they get organised, they will be hauled up by the police, beaten and dragged to jail for doing something illegal. There is no leader among them, no one who could help them see things differently. Additional Points  The writer, Anees Jung sees two distinct worlds— one of the family, caught in a web of poverty, burdened by the stigma of caste in which they are born; the other a vicious circle of the sahukars, the middlemen, the policemen, the law keepers, the bureaucrats and the politicians. Together they have imposed the baggage on the child that he cannot put down. Before he is aware, he accepts it as naturally as his father. To do anything else would mean to dare. And daring is not part of his growing up.
 Mukesh’s father is an impoverished bangle maker. Despite long years of hard labour, first as a tailor, then a bangle maker, he has failed to renovate a house, send his two sons to school. He only managed to teach them the art of making bangles.
 “It is his karam, his destiny,” says Mukesh’s grandmother. She has watched her own husband go blind with the dust from polishing the glass of bangles. She implies that a god-given lineage can never be broken. Born in the caste of bangle makers, they have seen nothing but bangles — in every house, in every street of Firozabad.
 The writer wonders if Savita, a young girl, knows the sanctity of the bangles she helps make. It symbolises an Indian woman’s suhaag, auspiciousness in marriage. The old woman beside her still has bangles on her wrist, but no light in her eyes. “Ek waqt ser bhar khana bhi nahin khaya,” she says, in a voice drained of joy. She has not enjoyed even one full meal in her entire lifetime. Her husband, an old man knows nothing except bangles. All he has done is make a house for the family to live in, what many have failed to achieve in their lifetime. He has a roof over his head!
 When the writer asks Mukesh if he also dreams of flying a plane, he is suddenly silent. He says, “No” staring at the ground. In his small murmur there is an embarrassment. He is content to dream of cars that he sees in his
town. But few airplanes fly over Firozabad.