As the sun rises over the hills, the birds start chirping. Nine-year-old Gyatsu knows that it is time to go to school. All his friends in the village go to school too. In no time a small army of rosy-cheeked children can be seen hurrying through the streets and up the hills, to the local primary school. The birds keep them company throughout the way.
Little Gyatsu lives in a hill village called Drutlang. It is close to Aizawl, which is the capital of Mizoram state, in the north-eastern part of India. Mizoram is one of the seven hill states in north-east India. These seven states are called The Seven Sisters.
The Mizo people are very proud of the fact that most of their children go to school. No child is allowed to stay at home or work in the fields.
After school gets over in the afternoon, it is singing time at the church. Gyatsu and his six-year-old sister Lomi take their Bibles and join the others in the village to sing with the church choir – some do it in tune, others invite glares! Gyatsu is practising singing for a wedding that is to take place shortly, in Drutlang. Most Mizos actively take part in all church activities.
Once the session is over, the boy rushes off with his friends to the playground. And what a playground it is, for it has been cut into the hillside. For more than an hour, nothing matters more to the young sportsmen than football.
“What is so special about Gyatsu’s life?” you might ask. But the truth is that Gyatsu is a very lucky child to be living in Mizoram. For, in all the neighbouring states like Tripura and Nagaland, children live in fear.
Very few of them go to school. By the time they are 10 or 11 years of age, they are trained by their elders to use a gun. The adults in Mizoram’s neighbouring states are using the gun to fight different kinds of battles. Some of these battles are between the people of different tribes. One tribe feels superior to the other.
The other kind of “do or die” battle is between groups of people in these states and the Government of India. Caught in the crossfire, the children have very little to feel happy about.
But Gyatsu is lucky that Mizoram is not like that. In Mizoram, the young people and the Church have made sure that no one joins terrorist groups. The best thing is that Gyatsu and his friends have never seen a gun. They are able to have happy dreams.
Little Gyatsu, too, has a dream. He wants to become a famous football player, like his hero, Ronaldo, the famous Brazilian football star. His mouth drops open as he remembers the excitement of the World Cup Soccer matches that he saw on television a couple of years ago. The little footballer wants to play like Ronaldo and make India proud.
Gyatsu also dreams of travelling to distant lands. Of course, till now, he has never gone outside his village. So he is saving all his pocket money for a trip to the state capital, Aizawl, this summer. That is when a new world will open up for him. He is sure of it.