Sold on a Monday – Kristina McMorris

“Two children on a porch were being offered for sale. Like cattle at market.”

Looking for my weekend read, i came across this book on kindle. Title of the book, i might have browsed past, but the cover page tugged at my heart – with a small little boy sitting with a small suitcase at his feet, waiting to be sold.

“It started with a picture.” Ellis a journalist at a local newspaper took a picture of two boys next to a placard, offering them for sale, had no idea how his life would change.

The picture brought to attention by a secretary at the newspaper, earning Ellis a chance to write a meaningful article, is lost to a mishap. “Sold on Monday” could also mean, the Monday when Ellis sold out on his conscience by recreating a similar pic, with different children to advance his career.

“Sometimes he wondered what else he’d sold on that Monday. His principles? His integrity?”

Article generated wide interest amongst the media houses and apart from generating gifts and offers to support the family, also enabled job opportunities for Ellis with higher pay. At a national newspaper, Ellis uses some unsavory means – like befriending a mafia cult to gather information about other criminals and politicians to stay in the game.

However, the book is the story of the two children who posed for Ellis’s make-believe picture, who ultimately ended up being sold directly as a result of interest generated by his picture. Ellis in his quest to sooth his conscience decides to follow-up on the family and ensure that all is well and children are happy.

This book is Ellis’s quest to find the children, discover the depravity of human souls, unravel the emotions and struggle of a mother who gave away her children and people who adopt  or rather buy children, only to keep them chained and use them as farm hands at the youngest possible age. It is the story of a journalist who could have gone to seed but lived up to the values inculcated in him by the virtue of his upbringing.

This book, as any that deals with child abuse is hard on the emotions of a reader. Characters are fairly complex, and well evolved over the book. There is no saint for sure – a journalist who fabricated the picture to give gravitas to his article, is also the one to put his career on hold and rescue the children from grave danger; a secretary and a single mother striving for a better career and a better life for her son, is also the one who prioritizes these victimized children as a result of mis-guided guilt; a rich banker with a psychotic wife, suffering in silence the loss of his only child, is also the one to go buy a daughter for his wife and place the boy in a orphangae for convenience; a mother who when diagnosed with a life threatening disease, takes the drastic step of selling her own children and suffers in silence, when the diagnoses if proven false, believing in her heart that her children are better off with those who are able to provide and care for them.

“Adults, we’re all so busy griping about our tough breaks, and kids like them, their lives change in a split second and you hardly hear a peep. Not about the big things anyway.”

Author has shared the picture that inspired this book. Four children sitting on the front steps, with a woman behind hiding her face. Authors question of “why take money for children” if all parents want is to find a better home for them and how the thought of separating siblings does not even cross the minds of adults will make your head hurt. The question we ask is – What would drive parents to sell their own kids? But an equally important question is – what makes other people buy kids and take them away from their families? Why is it not a crime?

“Photography is the art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”

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