Children are easy to boss-over, be forced into labour, terrorized into submission, and cajoled into exploitation, because they are vulnerable & weak.No wonder,there is hardly any sphere in life, where children are not exploited.

Children of a Lesser God- Bonded Labourers

There is hardly a place on this earth/or an era in history, where child-labour does/did not exist. The exact number is difficult to estimate; The official estimated figures, however, stand at a shocking 12, 5 million in the age group of four to fourteen in India alone, and this is just the tip of the ice-burg. Carpet-Weavers of Mirzapur, Tea-Plantation workers of Darjeeling, Zari-workers of Banaras, Embroidery-unit labourers in Delhi, Lock-Factory workers of Aligarh, Silver-Needle factory workers, match-factory workers, and the list goes on…
As the world marked the 12th of June as the “World Against Child Labour Day", I helplessly watched children being kicked, scolded and beaten-up into submission and labour, sometimes, beyond their capacity. It is hard not to get appalled…
I would like to share here the 1st of a series of short poems, I wrote under the common heading of “Children of Lesser God-the Bonded Labourers", with my friends...


He breathes the fibre
That he weaves with ease,
Into a carpet of sheer beauty.
The carpet will adorn the floor
of those who trample it
Under their feet.

The fibre settles in his lungs,
In a pattern, quite similar
To the one he weaves.
It cannot be seen, it's heard,
In his every wheezing breath.

He weaves his childhood
Into that carpet,
His dreams into its pattern,
His blood and sweat into
Each and every knot,
His soul into its warmth.

He weaves his heart
Into each flower,
His freedom into the wings
of every bird in flight,
His blood colours every rose,
His sweat the yellow of each lily.

His innocence he weaves
Into the softness of each bud,
His nights are in the blackness
Of the background.
Where do his tears go?
They dry-up as he begins to grow.

Old and haggard
Long before his time
His skin, no longer soft
Like the delicate carpet,
But rough and torn. A rug
Trampled by Time.

When next you step
On such a carpet,
Do not be smug.
A childhood might be
Woven into it…

Author: Zoya Zaidi
Aligarh (UP), India
Copyright©: Zoya Zaidi

Note: The carpet-fibres get deposited into the lungs, causing pneumoconiosis, a form of interstitial fibrosis of the lungs, giving rise to shrinkage of lungs, reducing their vital capacity, and causing breathlessness and wheezing.
There are an estimated 1,5 million children employed in carpet weaving industry in India.

Poetry by Zoya Zaidi
Read 2324 times
Written on 2005-10-24 at 18:51

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Amar Gurung
Hi zoya,'m a fan of ur writing...wish I could write brilliantly as u....this poem is a good example of promoting love n care among the most beautiful creature of God... hope the concerned people realize their mistake n stop this inhuman act.

Hey your stuff is great! But why haven't you opend one letter of mine for two years? All my letters to you in my outbox are unread since 2007.

Hey, hope you're well
I dont think any words can express how touching this is...

Mikael Lövkvist
Bless your heart for bringing people's attention to this problem with such compassion, and sensitive craft. Yes, it's truly shameful that we as the adults of this planet have not yet completely and globally invited the children inte the human bill of rights. Yet, every voice counts, and your poem, and your educational piece, are both excellent ways to start helping people see, and feel.

Oh, dear poet friend, this poem gave me chills of wonder and appreciation. The message is heartbreaking and is written beautifully. A story that stuns my sensitivity into horror because I do love children and understand their vulnerability. Thank you for writing this poem and I admire the courage it took to write it. Truth is terrible but we need to know it. I hand you a bouquet of roses and kiss your sweet cheek!

Peter Humphreys
This is the most extraordinarily moving piece. I learned so much too and was deeply moved. I will never forget this. I mean that.

D.D. Michaels
A remarkably compassionate poem written straight from the heart. Thanks so much for lending your very eloquent and deeply human voice to those unable to speak for themselves due to circumstances beyond their control. You really have a remarkable poetic talent, and are obviously using it for all the right reasons.

Keep up the marvelous work,
D.D. Michaels

All the comments say it all - a perfect piece perfectly expressed.
Another gem in your tiara of excellence.

Amanda K
very insightful, Zoya. you showed the picture through depicting a scene in those kids' lives. Even in The MiddleEast such explotion.political, financial ,social and critical situations. Poverty after war, & orphans' numbers increased.It's very sad that they don live their childhood properly. Thank you for writing it.


oh my.
im about to cry,
thats terrible
how thats a part of life
how children can be treated like that
just so others can be rich
its a beautiful and meaningful work

Rik The PoetBay support member heart!
you have a natural gift to express your feelings and the world that surrounds.

A beautifully touching piece.

This is so sad and shocking. This brings to mind and the horrors children face in a good manner. It's informative and yet so well written (i'm 15, the age when they make you read textbooks in school. And all the shocking things that are in's shocking, yes, but it doesn't feel real. This makes it feel so very real indeed)
2006-01-14 Moods The PoetBay support member heart!
this one is extremely difficult for me... as it should be for everyone... minds motivated by greed... minds putting more value on fortune than life... heartless souls killing innocent hearts... it breaks me apart... i have seen a documentary of this situation in India, the children weaving carpets... babies forced to sit on a little wooden bench, 12-14hrs a day, cutting their small fingers, enduring the cramped up, poorly lit, poorly ventilated space... just weaving away their childhood only for the sake of making westerners and other people of the world (not opening their eyes to the reality of these atrocities) happy about the decor of their homes! it sickens me beyond any words... i think as conscious people and responsible consumers, we should take into account these realities and hinder the demand by not buying these things that we all know are made from the hands of abused children... if we dont buy then there isnt any demand and if there isnt any demand, then they go out of business... it may be a utopic concept that i have in mind but it could be a way to begin somewhere... i dont know if im right in my assumptions that im helping these children by not buying the products that im aware are results of child labor/abuse... i hope i am... but in my mind and heart, im believing consumers can make a big difference, more than they think... if we stick together and are firm in our choices, im believing these maniacs will have no choice to fold and give up their ideas of making money on the backs of innocent lives... heart and tears for all of these children, may this madness find an end... thanks for sharing zoya... i walk along your sensitivity and i support your hopes wholeheartedly as they reflect my own *hug* xx

a beauteous truth; a heartwrenching sadness;...never really thought about child labour before...thanks for opening my eyes....(there is a certain something within you, with regard to your talent, the best of which, i think this world is yet to see)

Black Knight
It is no wonder, that I do not love this world...
Thanks, Zoya. You are fine poet. It's not just compliment. It's truth.

John Ashleigh
I read this poem 3 times, this is how much this poem strikes me! A VERY interesting subject if I may say so myself. Keep the poetry up Zoya baby. :)

these lines have brought a sadness to me that i cannot quite explain...need more time...

You are very strong and powerful with your write about all these terrible things of this world, as always very touching hearbreaking and wonderful write, keep this great work

Wow--this is such a beautiful piece, I felt tears and chills. I read about child slavery in a National Geographic a few years ago--it is terrible! And it happens everywhere, people in the USA, part of Europe, Australia...we sometimes forget this happens in our countries as well! A very eye-opening piece!!

Zoya Zaidi
Thanks KJC for very generous praise! The message it self reads like a poem!It speaks for a kindest of kind hearts...............! I myself am speechless to react on your comment! Zoya

chasingtheday The PoetBay support member heart!
ok, just checked dictionaries here on that fiber fibre, one only has fibre the newer one i have says usa fiber. so a 5 :) though it wont let me rate again :p

chasingtheday The PoetBay support member heart!
it's a sad state of life that the strong take the weak and make them weaker. it is bullying, plain and simple, and in this case and many others like it, bullying for their profit.

i am sure here in the uk that there are many who suffer so too, hidden away from eyes.

fiber - fibre

Mans inhumanity is incredible, and the exploitation of children is obscene and always has been, the fact that its commited for gain turns my stomach, the abuse of children takes many forms none of which should be acceptable in any society on earth, you have captured the truth in this, may god bless you for the courage to say so.

Thank you Zoya for this text, and for the passion you put into it!