Over 20 years ago in a remote and desperately poor area of the Ganges Delta, a small boy led his blind grandmother by the hand as she begged on the roadside to earn money to feed her tiny family. Sanjay never met his father – he had died before Sanjay was born. The father’s family were poor and could not afford to feed the young pregnant widow or her blind mother, so they were cast out to fend for themselves. The boy’s mother found what work she could, often away from home, to support the family. It was a life lived on the edge of survival and none of them could have seen a way out.
Sanjay began to beg further afield, by now independent enough to go alone leaving his grandmother behind (yet perhaps only 5 or 6 years old): richer pickings were always to be found at transport hubs, at stations, by the jetties where the river boats tied up.
One day the boy climbed aboard a train -perhaps for adventure, perhaps in search of work or just to beg. And the train moved off. This was the last the boy was to see of his home for many years.... (continued)