Hansel and Gretel – #MyTaletoo

Hansel and Gretel – #MyTaletoo

Retold as Harish and Geeta

Once upon a time, there lived a poor farmer named Shyamlal in a small village. He had two children Harish and Geeta. Harish was 12 years old, an intelligent, smart boy and Geetawas 10, a cute little girl but unfortunately, she was born blind. Despite working hard the whole day in the farm, Shyamlal was unable to earn enough to fulfil his family’s basic needs.

Every day Shyamlal was upset and stressed because of his poor condition and was concerned about how he can manage giving his children a better life.

One fine day, a rich businessman named Rajen came to Shyamlal’s village for his business. Rajen went door to door to get an idea of the local people’s problems and understand how they work and what their lives were like. And soon,Rajen came to Shyamlal’s house for a visit. As soon as Rajenentered the house, he saw Geeta playing with her brother Harish. He asked Harish, “Beta, what is your name?” as Harish was about to answer the question, Shyamlal entered the house and saw that Rajen was talking to his son. Shyamlal then immediately struck a conversation with Rajen . Shyamlalsaid everything about his poor condition and that he was unable to provide a good lifestyle to his children. After listening to Shyamlal, Rajen said, “I can help you give your children a good life ahead”. Shyamlal asked, “Oh Really! Sir how will that be possible”. Rajen said, “I will take your children to the city of Mumbai, so that they can get an education and your daughter can get better treatment to cureher blindness. Hearing all this from the businessman, Shyamlal was confused and sad as he would have to stay away from his children. He told Rajen, “Sorry Sir, but I cannot live without my children. It will be very hard for me to live without them. Rajen said, “Yes, it is true that no father can live without his children but just think about your children’s bright future and the possibility of your daughter being able to see the beautiful world. Finally, he asked Shyamlal to think it over and tell him about his decision the next morning.

Shyamlal kept thinking about it and couldn’t sleep the whole night. Next morning, he called his son Harish, and said, “Beta,today both of you are going to go to the city of Mumbai with the rich businessman”. On hearing these words from theirfather, Harish started crying, “No dad we will not go without you”. Shyamlal said, “Beta that uncle is a rich and kind man.He will be able to provide you with an education and also cure your sister of her blindness”. Don’t you want your sister to see this beautiful world?”. Harish uttered, “Yes dad I will go to Mumbai but only if you promise me that you will come to meet us there”. Shyamlal promised that he would pay them a weekly visit.

And finally, they were in Mumbai city in a huge apartment. When Harish and Geeta came into their flat, there were 2 other children in the room one was Mahesh, an 11 year old boy and the other was Manish a 10 year old boy whose mobility was impaired due to polio. Harish and Geeta were very happy meeting them. Days passed by happily, as they played laughed and enjoyed their life here in Mumbai. The only problem was, that they were not allowed to go out of the flat. Once, Harish asked Rajen, “sir, why are we not allowed to go out and enjoy”. Hearing this, Rajen became very angry but pretended to be very calm and answered “beta, you are new in this city and people here are not very kind”.

Rajen was not a kind businessman his real business was organ harvesting and child trafficking. He used to bring children from small villages, lying to their parents that he will provide them with a good lifestyle. He did the same to with Shyamlal and his 2 children.

Once when Harish was playing with Mahesh in the living room, he heard Rajen talking to one of his business partnerson the phone “hello, these children are very smart and they have started asking me why they are not allowed to go out. Quickly arrange for a good deal so that these children are sold as soon as possible.” Listening to Rajen’s conversation,Harish and Mahesh were very afraid and figured out what his real motive was. They realised why he was pretending to be so kind and nice to them. Suddenly within a fortnight, there was a police raid of the flat. As soon as Rajen saw them coming, he took all the 4 children with him and escaped to his farmhouse in Alibaug. This move frightened the children as they sensed that something bad was about to happen. They tried to escape from there but were unsuccessful. Rajen was so cruel that he locked Harish and Mahesh in a room so that they wouldn’t try to escape again. He did not lock Geeta and Manish because he thought that Geeta was blind and Manish had polio so that would prevent them from running away.

The children became very sad and were afraid of what would happen to them. They were helpless. After 3-4 days, Harishand the 3 children thought that sitting like this will not help them. They would have to be brave and find a solution to their problems.

In the farm house there was 1 guard named Moti. He was in his forties and used to interact with these children “beti what happened to your brothers? why has Rajen locked them in the room”. Moti asked Geeta and Manish. Geeta told him thewhole story. This made Moti was very sad and began to think of ways of how to release these children from this cruel businessman. Every day he would bring chocolates and some nice treats to eat for them. Once Harish and Mahesh asked Moti “uncle, will you help us escape from this place? Please help us, we are like your own children.” They started crying.Moti was very soft hearted. He answered “yes, beta I will definitely help you all in escaping from here at the earliest.But I am unable to understand how and when it will be possible.”

After a few days, the children made a plan and told Moti “uncle, you just keep an eye on when Rajen comes and leaves the farm house.”. As Harish and Mahesh were locked in a room, they were unable to do much.

During this time, Moti and Manish started teaching Geeta to navigate around the farm house. Manish would orient her with the rooms and structure of the farm house. Geeta being good at spatial orientation learnt very quickly. A week later, Geeta was roaming around alone without any help. She had learnt the entire internal structure and what was kept in each room.

Finally, they decided to escape. Manish and Geeta were going to be brave and do things as planned. One evening, when Rajen was busy with his work, Manish went to the roomwhere all the sockets of the electric supply were installed. He switched off the power supply and everything became dark. Geeta ran to the room where the keys to the room where Harish and Mahesh were locked, were kept. Though it was very dark in the room, she was able to navigate the rooms of the farm house as light or dark didn’t matter. She brought the keys and opened the door of the room and very quickly they ran away from the farm house. Moti helped Manish get out of the farm house. Through all of this, Rajen could not understand what had happened and how the 4 children escaped.

And all the 4 children were saved from the wicked businessman!

Written by Sampa Gupta

*This story was written as part of Rising Flame’s One Billion Rising Campaign where we rise for the rights of women and girls with disabilities.

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