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Mahesh's Story

Mahesh’s story is just one example of the many heart-wrenching tales being written beneath the shade of rose bushes, inside the walls of brick kilns, and over the jagged surfaces of rock quarries.

Mahesh lost his parents at a young age. In 2011, his older brother took a monetary advance for their sister’s marriage, and sent Mahesh to work off that debt at a rose farm in Anekal, near Bengaluru. Mahesh was just eight years old at the time.

“Our hands used to tear and bleed”

Once on the farm, Mahesh began work at 5:00 am every day tending the cows on the farm. Then he went straight to working the endless line of roses. When asked to describe his life on the rose farm, Mahesh says, “We would cut the flowers, put them in a bucket, and pack them. We would loosen the soil beds and fertilise the roses. There were a lot of thorns. Our hands used to tear and bleed.”

If they did not work, they were beaten. He and the other children were expected to toil from dawn till dusk with almost no breaks. Mahesh worked on the rose farm, enduring little sleep and food, for five long years. Five years that should have been filled with school, sports, good food, friends, and laughter.


In September 2013, three other bonded labourers managed to escape and they approached the Sub Collector of Hosur. A few weeks later, police and district officials identified the farm and rescued Mahesh along with four other boys. Mahesh was the youngest to receive a Release Certificate (an official document that cancels all outstanding debts) from the Assistant Commissioner and Sub Divisional Magistrate, Bengaluru Nagara.

Soon after rescue, the Sub Collector helped place Mahesh in a residential school in Hosur. “When Mahesh arrived at the school in October 2013, he didn’t know how to read or write, he didn’t even know how to hold a pen in his hand,” shares the school’s headmaster. “Now, he is one of our brightest students. In one year, he has become fluent in reading and writing Tamil. He has also begun to learn English. All the boys enjoy playing sports, but when Mahesh plays he always has a pen and paper in his pocket.”

“He will often stop playing to write his thoughts. Writing is his favorite thing,” the headmaster proudly adds.

The proactive action of the Sub Collector has given Mahesh a new lease of life. With sheer gratitude, he says, “In the rose farm, I didn’t have a chance to write. My hands which were full of injuries from the thorns of the rose plants…I am so glad that today I can hold a pen!”