Kabir’s only home has been the jail where he was born. He lives there with his mom, who is serving time for a crime she did not commit. The warden changes and this warden follows the rules more strictly. According to the rules, when Kabir turns nine he will no longer be able to live at the jail.
As the story opens he only has a few days left there. On the. day of his birthday he’ll be sent away from the only family he knows: his mom and their cellmates. Each of them have taught him important lessons: how to be safe, the importance of honesty and a belief that he deserves his place in the world. Kabir’s teacher at the prison school also tries to teach him what he will need to know once he is free and living in Chennai, India – how to ride a bus, how to pay for things and how to show respect.
On the day he turns nine, Kabir is handed over to his “long lost uncle.” It seems okay at first, but odd too. Kabir stays alert. He remembers the lessons of his prison family. When he realizes his “uncle” is a fraud and going to sell him into labor, Kabir does the only thing he can – runs!
Alone on the streets Kabir wonders how he will survive. Where will he live? How will he eat? Will he ever see his mother again. Fortunately he meets Rani, another street kid, who is willing to help him answer his questions. She helps him figure out what to do next in a world that cares very little for homeless orphans who are from the low caste. It is hard. It is dangerous. But, with the support of a few people who are willing to see the good in him, Kabir makes his way. He shows the free world he deserves a place in it … right beside his mom.
Be sure to read the Author’s Note. Kabir’s story was inspired by an actual event in 2013, and unfortunately, this is not the only one. Stories like this one, help me understand how important my voice is. Perhaps by becoming more aware and paying closer attention to injustices around us, we can make a difference. Every kindness matters. Thank you for all you do.
If you’re intrigued and want to understand more about kids born and living in prisons, read A Wish in the Dark (review here) or All Rise for the Honorable Perry T Cook. If you have titles to add this list please leave them in a comment. Thank you.