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Lost Spring Summary in English
By- Anees Jung
‘Sometimes I Find A Rupee in the Garbage’
The author would come across Saheb every morning. She always found him searching for something in a heap of garbage. One morning she asked him, “Why do you do this?” He replied, “I have nothing else to do.” She told him to go to school but there was no school in his neighbourhood. She asked him whether he would study if she started school. Saheb was happy. He said he would go to her school. But she did not intend starting a school in the near future. She realized what an impact her words spoken casually had on Saheb.
Saheb’s full name is Saheb-e-Alam. It means the Lord of the Universe. But the poor boy wandered on roads along with other poor barefoot boys like him.
The author talked to Saheb’s companions. One of the barefoot boys told her that it was a tradition to walk barefoot. But the author does not agree with them. She asserts that a perpetual state of poverty is the real cause. Some children are lucky. Their prayer to get shoes has been granted but the ragpickers remain barefooted.
The ragpickers live in Seemapuri. Seemapuri is very close to Delhi, but there is a world of difference between the two places.
Like all other families of ragpickers, Saheb’s family had come from Bangladesh in 1971. They came here because their homes and fields were destroyed by storms. They had nothing to live on.
About 10,000 ragpickers live in Seemapuri. They live in mud structures with roofs of tin and tarpaulin. They lack all civic amenities like sewage and running water. They have voter identity cards and ration cards. This enables them to cast their votes and buy food. They move about and pitch their tents wherever they can find food. Ragpicking is their sole means of earning a livelihood.
Saheb used to stand outside a club. He watched young men playing tennis, a game, which fascinated him. He wished to play tennis. Someone gave him a pair of discarded tennis shoes. It was like a dream coming true. Of course, playing tennis was out of his reach.
Saheb got a job in a tea-stall. He was paid 800 rupees a month and all meals. Perhaps he was not happy. He had lost his carefree life and his freedom. He was no longer his own master.
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‘I Want to Drive a Car’
The author visited Firozabad. Firozabad is famous for its bangle making industry. Almost every other family in Firozabad is engaged in making glass bangles for women all over India. Glass bangles are a symbol of a woman’s marital status.
Mukesh’s family was engaged in making bangles. Mukesh took the author to his house. They went through stinking lanes choked with garbage. Families of bangle makers lived there. Their houses had crumbling walls and wobbly doors.
They enter Mukesh’s house which was like any other house in the lane. A frail young woman was cooking meals on a firewood stove. Her eyes were filled with smoke. She greeted the author with a smile. She was the wife of Mukesh’s elder brother. She was respected as the daughter-in-law of the family.
Mukesh’s father also came in. The daughter-in-law covered her face with a veil as custom demanded. Mukesh’s father was old and weak. He had lost his eyesight with the dust from polishing glass bangles. He had worked hard all his life. But he could not afford to send his two sons to school. He could only teach them the art of making bangles. He had built the house but could not repair it.
Mukesh’s grandmother expressed her belief in destiny. She said that it was their karma (deeds) that they were born into the bangle maker’s caste. It was their destiny to suffer. But no man could change what was already decided by fate. In fact, her belief was shared by all the people of Firozabad.
Another woman told the author that despite hard work they had never had a full meal in their whole life.
The author could see bangles everywhere. She saw boys and girls welding pieces of coloured glass. Their eyes would get used to the darkness and they often lost their eyesight before they were adults. At home, families worked hard all day in front of furnaces with high temperatures. This led to many children becoming blind before they reached adulthood.
Generation after generation, families of bangle makers have been engaged in making bangles. They live in poverty, they work hard and die in poverty. Nothing has changed with the passage of time. They find themselves in the clutches of middlemen and moneylenders. If the youth try to organise themselves, they realise that the police and the administration will not help them. If they try to get out of the vicious circle, they are in trouble. The police beat them and put them in jail.
It is not easy for a bangle maker to do something different. The stigma of his caste always goes with him. But Mukesh wants to be a motor mechanic. He wants to learn this work at a garage far away from home. He wants to be his own master.
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Lost Spring Summary in English
Saheb, son of a migrant family from Dhaka, is a ragpicker who lives in Seemapuri, at the periphery of Delhi, and goes about barefoot rummaging around in the heaps of garbage to earn his livelihood. For children like Saheb, a heap of garbage is like a gold mine. Thousands of such children live with their families in Seemapuri. They live in a slum with not even the basic amenities such as water and sanitation available to them. These families are living in utter poverty.
The children have nothing else to do except ragpicking through which they earn something to eat at least. Garbage to the elders is a means of survival but for these children, it is a magical wonder. In order to earn better, Saheb starts working at a tea-stall where he is paid, Rs.800 per month but it seems he, after this, has lost his carefreeness. He works for someone else and is no longer his own master. This loss of identity weighs heavily on his tender shoulders.
AneesJung, then tells about Mukesh, another young boy, who wants to be his own master. He is a boy from Firozabad’s glass making industry and as a family tradition, he has always worked in the glass bangle factory. Here, the children work in close proximity of furnaces and in such high temperatures that they are exposed to various health hazards, even losing their eyesight.
Mukesh’sfamily, like other families of Firozabad, are victims of poverty. His father is blind, and they live in a small half-constructed house. These people of Firozabad are exploited by the sahukars, the middlemen, the policemen, the bureaucrats and the politicians. But Mukesh is different and confident, He wants to be a motor mechanic.
In the story, the author brings out the depravity of child labour. In fact, childhood is considered as spring of human life and should full of joy, pleasure and play. But ironically millions of children like Saheb and Mukesh have lost their spring, i.e. childhood by getting engaged in making a living.