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Monday, July 23, 2012

It was one of those regular days.   The chores at home, tackled .

I had been postponing a trip to Malad.    With a bit of time on hand ,  I thought  I would finish that long overdue visit today.

Malad is home turf.  Had lived there for 12 yrs.. And the impressionable yrs at that.  The markets at Malad are popular for their wholesale trades,  and for several years, the housewife in me, used to prefer making her major household purchases there.  The grocery , the utility items and then some more.

Over the past couple of years,  the trips to Malad have been limited to the ‘comfortable to shop in ‘ malls.  The wholesale markets no  longer appealed.

However, some  things still are Malad specific.   Can go on and on about these, but then this post is not about Malad.

I was there on a social visit but couldn’t resist a quick walk through the crowded bazaar.  Made a hurried  visit to the Coffee Mart.  As I waited for my pack of warm freshly ground coffee powder, I noticed a grubby lad trying to attract my attention.   He must  have been  abt 2 and a half feet tall and about 5 or 6 yrs old.   Dark skinned, the dust marks on him appeared more prominent.  His  big bright curious eyes were  typical of his age. The eyes twinkling, reflecting  no trace of the haplessness of his condition.   Nor did he flaunt a pitiable expression on his face trying to evoke any sympathy.

Once I took notice of him, I heard him say something. Could not really make much of it.  So I went closer to him.  He was doing his best to communicate. The expressions on his face, the hand gestures and the tone of his voice suggested an urgency.  He clearly wanted something.   Malad is FoodLand.  Anywhere u glance, u will only see food.  I thought he wanted some money to eat  a wada pav or a pani puri at the stalls near the Coffee Mart.

The way he conducted himself was very impressive.  He wasn't begging.    Demanding ??  Yes.... but in very much  the same way  a child would , of his mother.  As a matter of right.  He wasn't audacious, nor was he being cheeky.

Something melted within me.  I went upto him and asked him, "kuch  chahiye, kya khaaogey?"  He kept gesticulating and making some sounds agitatedly.  I realised I would not be able to make any sensible verbal conversation  with him.  I followed his hungry gaze and looked in the direction his fingers were  pointing at.    In between the 2 stalls selling wada paav and paanipuri,  a  wee bit away  from the road, was a guy with a vending machine, selling some cold drinks.   There were about 7 tiny spouts on the contraption and each had a tag identifying the drink.

Having realised that he was being understood, he smiled.  The other vendors, started shooing him away.  But he wasn't daunted.  We continued our wordless conversation.  He made the appropriate grunts yet I was unable to fathom which one he preferred.  Then I decided to take a call.  Assuming  that an orange drink would be irrestible to a child, I ordered one.  The boy's gaze was now fixed on to the juice vendor. Observing each movemnet.  He obviously knew the routine.  The man picked up a disposable glass and a stirrer .   The moment the chap placed his finger on the orange tap, the little one yelled shrillly,   "Kaala wala, Kaala waala".  I could not resist a chuckle.   The little fellow  had his preferences and didn't shy from exercising them!!

His face changed a hundred expressions as he saw the tall transparent glass being filled ,  as the man tapped the glass and filled it again,  as he added the salt, stirred it and wrapped a tissue around it.

He gleefully took the glass offered to him and took a tentative sip.  He smiled...... a smile of satisfaction., of a happy contentment.  The smile was not for me.  I waited .  He did not even look at me.  He took another sip , a big one this tme .  He held the  glass upto his eyes to see how much of the juice it still held. Now that he was sure he wouldn't spill it, he turned on his heel .  Still holding the glass close to his chest with both his hands, he carefully crossed the road.  I lost sight of him soon enough. I wondered whether he took the glass  someplace where he could peacefully relish it, or whether he intended to share it with someone else; a  sibling?? a  friend ?? 

As I  moved away frm the stall,  I was smiling .  The boy  had  attitude. I admired his spunk, his innocence ,  still  unsullied by any negative experiences of an often unkind and whimsical society.

Sent a silent prayer to THE ONE above, to keep an eye on the young man and look out for him always !

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