Every now and then we come across little children selling pens and pencils at traffic lights. It’s a common sight and most of us don’t bother to look at them and often chide them away when they try to coax us into buying their stuff.
This is a story of one such child I once crossed paths with. Barely 4 or 5 years of age, wearing tattered clothes, he sat in the corner of the road with his pile of pens, probably tired from a day of toil. He looked at a hoarding above his head, put up by a school, boasting about the meritorious result of their students. He couldn’t read what the board said, for he had never been to school. He sat there and watched the face of the toppers glow in the bright yellow light of the street lamp wondering how high they were and how small he is in front of them. His eyes, full of longing looked at the board hoping somehow he could reach there. But his hands were so small. He was so small. A little boy lost in the darkness caused by the shadow of the board. Little did he know that his pens, the very source of his meager income, was their tool to reach the height. Little did he know that he possessed a power which has the potential to change the world. Little did he know that LITERACY is the name of the wings which can fly him as high as he wants. His wings to reach the board, his wings to surpass them.
It is then, when I saw him, that I realised the power of literacy. The power of education. Education is beyond marks, beyond just numbers we strive so hard to achieve so that we can finally put them on our CV for a lifelong reminder. It has the power to give us an identity, a place in the world, a pace to walk with the word, a light to illuminate our lives.

On this world literacy day, let’s not pity the illiterate, let’s change our stand, take a step and make a change because जब बढ़ेंगे अक्षर दर अक्षर, तभी तो होगी दुनिया साक्षर.

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