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I was a happy go lucky six year old boy staying at St. Peter’s orphanage. The orphanage had about 20 children. The living conditions were not anything fancy, but we had no complaints either. I distinctly remember the morning of 1st May, 1820 when a wealthy looking middle aged gentleman came to our orphanage. He pretended to be a nice but lonely guy who wanted to adopt two healthy children between the age group of 6 to 10. He met all the children and finally selected Berley, the eldest in the group, and myself. We were thrilled! I assumed that my life would be a bed of roses from now on.
Both Berley and myself bade good bye to our friends and “home” beaming with hope and dreams of a better life ahead. Our “not so lucky” friends wished us best of luck with tears in their eyes. Berley and I would now be brothers living with a wealthy man. We entered his large palatial house with trembling legs. Before long we were taken to the backyard, which, unlike the rest of the house, resembled a slum. There we met a few more children who stared at us blankly. They looked ugly, unkempt and had dark circles under their eyes. One of them had an amputated finger.
Though their sight made us feel uneasy, we decided to concentrate on our first meal. Both Berley and I were expecting a treat but to our disappointment it was the worst food we had ever eaten. Soon the truth surfaced and we realized that the wealthy gentleman had “bought us” as slaves to work in a factory where he was an overseer. We were trapped for life…… The next day started at 4 am. After getting ready we went to a dark and stinking factory where they made cotton. I was assigned to pick up dirty waste material that was being generated almost continuously.
After working diligently for almost four hours I felt tired and claustrophobic so I decided go for a stroll and explore the factory with Berley. As we were walking out together, our so called “father” appeared with a big whip in his hand. Without assigning any reason, he whacked both of us several times. I stupidly sat down on the dusty floor and started howling while Berley ran back to his assignment. The overseer got angrier with me and said, ‘Not happy with one beating, eh? ‘ He gave me two hard shots on my back and harshly told me to go back to work.
With big tears and a paining back I returned to complete my job. Thereafter I was then forced to go under a large machine & continue the cleaning. By the time I finished I had blood on my fingers due to a minor accident. Berley, my only friend, rushed to comfort me while I was crying For years thereafter this routine continued. Without Berley by my side I would not have managed to cope. However, we both often wondered that if this was indeed industrial revolution for a better future, someone, somewhere had made a mistake….