Thursday, August 09, 2007

Innocent craving

He wore a shabby, oversized shirt, and his half-pants ended just a couple of inches lower than the shirt. His hair was unkempt, and his dark eyes shone on the dark face. He looked like he was seven-eight years of age. He did not say anything, but started pulling at the hem of my friend’s kurta.

It was a sunny September afternoon. After a good lunch, we had gone out for an icecream. There is this Food World on Cunningham Road, and yes, it is not a great place to have icecreams but it was close to office and they did house Cornetto, one she really liked. We bought a cone and since Food Worlds are grocery stores, we had to seat ourselves on my bike parked in front of the store.

No sooner had she started enjoying her cone, this little boy came from nowhere and started begging. He was exactly the kind of kid you would like to shoo away—the typical child who begs at the traffic signal. Dirty and unkempt, he did not utter a single voice, but started pulling at my friend’s dress. Seeing my friend getting irritated and disturbed out of her Cornetto, I did
what almost everyone does in a similar situation; I tried dissuading him but he was stubborn. I generally disapprove of beggars, but offer them something sometimes to avoid their pestering. Thinking he was just asking for money, I gave him a five-rupee coin, which he gladly pocketed. I had believed he would go away.

I was wrong. He continued poking and touching and pulling and gesturing with his little hands. We had now got down from our perch and I again tried to drive him away. He was all the more adamant. My friend had got flustered and wanted him to leave and had started shooing him. I was wondering whether what I gave him was too less and that he wanted more money. Maybe he was hungry, but we could not have given him the half-eaten cone my friend was really enjoying.

She then suggested: “Yeh kahin nahi jaayega ashu, hum hi office chalte hain”. I considered that the best option and drove back the half-kilometer to office, where I joined my friend in finishing up the cornetto, after which both of us went to our respective cubicles to continue work.

It was when I reached my cubicle when I realized what a blunder I had committed!!!! Waves of guilt churned inside my stomach. All this time I was irritated by the child’s pestering and did not realize that he was asking us to buy him something unachievable for him!!! Even if he had the money, he would not be allowed inside a Food World and there was no way he could buy a cone!! Couldn’t wonder at the helplessness of the poor child.

He was probably mute, or perhaps chose to remain silent because he would not speak anything other than Kannada. Whatever the reason be, but all the time he had an eye on the icecream, and was gesturing us to buy him one, which both of us failed to understand. I admit we never tried to. We were too irritated to try and understand what he meant. I still remember those dark eyes requesting in vain and the disappointed and sad face when we decided to run away from him.

Ashamed of myself, I went back to the store, but could not find him around. Perhaps he had dropped the idea of an icecream, or someone more intelligent had understood and quenched his craving.

After this unforgettable episode, I kept an eye for him whenever I went to Cunningham Road, but could never spot him. And yes, we could never go again for an icecream after lunch.

  ©Template by Dicas Blogger.