With a Google Nexus in his hands, sitting in the basement of a prominent highrise, 11-year-old Rakesh beamed with delight as well as wonder on seeing me approach his little day lodging without a bag full of clothes in my hand.
The son of the society pressers, he used to go on rounds every alternate day, with his 15-year-old elder brother, collecting new bundles of clothes for his parents to iron and returning the well-pleated ones. He says that he actually misses going from house-to-house and sometimes getting a little toffee or a chocolate.
When he was not going around carrying clothes with his brothers, he was roaming in the playground, waiting for the children to come down and then watch them play cricket or football or some other fancy game. All he did was watch and sometimes fetch the ball when it went a bit far away, but that gave him immense joy and satisfaction.
Now, with most residents wary of the pressers and not giving clothes to iron, Rakesh had nothing to do the entire day. His school has started online classes, but since his family had only one smartphone, his elder brother used it to attend his classes. His mother requested one of the residents and the residents came together to donate an old Google Nexus for him to attend his classes.
He says that he hates online classes since he cannot speak to his friends in class anymore and he does not even have their phone numbers. To actually attend his classes, he has to go upstairs from the basement, where his parents set up their shop. He sits on a bench opposite to the clubhouse and he admits, grinning, that sometimes he takes a small nap on the bench, in between classes.
When I asked him when he thinks the situation will be back to normal, he replied with a quick, “I don’t know, but I hope that it is soon”. He says that he misses getting those tiny treats, the most.