16 January, 2021
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The Householder's Epiphany

A teacher-couple living in a slum have turned their home into a school for children of drug addicts

Tribhuvan Tiwari
The Householder's Epiphany

What does your father do? He’s a drug addict. This dramatic, hypothetical exchange may not be out of place in a realistic play or film. But under a real sun, between real people, it would be a particularly unreal, lashing experience for the one who is replying, not to mention the speechless questioner. A slum on the outskirts of Amritsar, like so many nameless others, has children who would answer to this description. This one is called Maqboolpura, a squalid dump teeming with drug addicts who perish by their fatal habit, leaving behind traumatised widows and children, the latter very much vulnerable to crime and—obeying a hellish logic—drugs. A child from this slum, whom fate has been relatively good to, and who is a grown-up man now, tries, along with his wife, to change things.

Ajit Singh and Satpal Kaur, both schoolteachers, have set up a school for children of drug addicts at Maqboolpura. Every morning at eight, their normal bustling household, which includes two children and parents, is transformed into the Citizen’s Forum Vidyamandir....



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