Present-day 2021; dire shortage of vaccine, failing health care system, scare of a third wave that might medically affect children, struggle to brave each day.
Flashback 2020; novel coronavirus hits India, nationwide lockdown, lost jobs, mass unemployment, migrants take long arduous journeys back home, 12-year-old Jamlo succumbs to an inhuman journey.
It happened back in April 2020. The nationwide lockdown forced many migrant workers to leave cities and head to their distant homes. Their journey back home was a reflection of the inherent disparity in our country. It reflected our callousness and neglect towards the people who build our homes, roads—who form the very backbone of our working class.
Throngs of migrants, walking down national highways, formed the migrant crisis.
Twelve-year-old Jamlo Makdam was one amongst them.
The only child of her parents, Jamlo, had left her home in February 2020. It was the first time she had stepped out for work. Along with a few women from her village in Chhattisgarh, Jamlo had left for Telangana to pick chillies in farms—a common practice among tribal communities in Chhattisgarh.
On 12th April 2020, upon realising that the lockdown was there to stay ad that she would not get work any time soon, Jamlo began walking towards her home with a group. Her perilous walk was 100-km and 3-day long. Only 11 km short of her home in Aded, Bijapur district, Chhattisgarh, Jamlo died due to electrolyte imbalance and exhaustion.
Jamlo Walks published by Penguin Random House India, written by filmmaker-writer Samina Mishra, and illustrated by Tarique Aziz is a children’s book that tells this tragic story.
Author Samina Mishra says, “Jamlo Walks’ was a response to last year’s vulgar display of inhumanity—those searing images of the migrants walking through the night, out of Delhi on the Yamuna bridge, the middle class apathy demonstrated on social media, the way domestic workers were being treated at colony gates, and finally the story of Jamlo that was simply heartbreaking.”
While the many lockdowns and restrictions have taught us unforgettable life lessons, here’s a book that gives the children food for thought.
Jamlo Walks is a tool that can make its young readers (ages 7 and up) recognize injustice and inequality, show the impact of the 2020 lockdown, and sensitively make them question how we treat others.
While the world stood still, while schools shut down, while children couldn’t hit the playground, men, women, and children quietly walked down streets. Jamlo Walks is a hard-hitting, yet eye-opening, tale of all those men, women, and children.