when I grow up…

I want to be a policewoman.

Twice a week, I volunteer at a local youth club run by an NGO, Friend’s Society. It’s more of an older children’s club than youth club; but then what’s in a name :).

Every evening slum kids between the age group of 7 to 18 come to that club. The first one hour is spent studying where they will either do their homework or the volunteers will give them something to work on say essay writing or painting with a message or writing tables etc depending on their age and class. Then the children play for another one hour and then go home.

On my first day, the regular volunteers were busy with some official work and I was alone with the kids and thinking that I am new, they started taking me for a ride and insisted on playing and not studying at all as it was still Diwali break (it’s been 2 weeks since Diwali!). Anyway so I started by first making them all sit at one place and then asked each to tell his/ her name, class, hobbies and what do they want to become. Some wanted to become teachers, some doctors, some wanted to have a shop but there was one girl Sophia, who wanted to become a policewomen.

Sophia: Mera naam Sophia hai. Main 8th standard main padhti hoon. Meri hobbies hai dance karna aur main police-waali ban-na chahti hoon.

(My name is Sophia. I study in standard 8th. My hobby is dancing and I want to become a police-woman)

Intrigued, I asked: “Police-waali kyon? Kya tumhe jagde suljhana achcha lagta hai?”

(Why a policewoman? Do you like solving crimes?)

Sophia: “Nahin, Main policewaali banongi to mere pass bhi danda hoga

(No. If I’m the police-woman I too will have the stick.)

The policman's baton. Volunteering with kids in slums.I was silenced for a short while after that. She shied away my further questioning and there were others who also wanted attention. But later I was wondering why does she want the danda (stick)? What does danda signify? Does it mean power to protect or power to oppress? Does she want the danda because currently she is on the other side of it?

What do you think? Why does Sophia want the policewoman’s baton?


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