Monday, February 9, 2009

A Simple Joy

The dishevelled little girl peered from behind her father’s leg. The signal had just turned red. Her coal-black eyes scanned the waiting cars. Her father began to dash between the vehicles, a string of beaded necklaces in his hand. “Only 5 rupees! All colours available! First class bead jewellery! Buy now!” he called out. A trio of young girls called for him and began to look through the necklaces.

The girl was left standing alone. She brushed a strand of grimy hair off her face. She shuddered a little. The evening air was cold and her tattered frock was so thin, her tiny bony silhouette was easily apparent through it.

Her wandering eyes suddenly lit up. She had spotted her target. It was a brand new auto rickshaw. Glossy yellow and black with soft sofa-style seats. On the right side of the rickshaw, just above the side view mirror was a shiny silver truck air horn, the kind that had been recently banned in the country for causing noise pollution. The driver was too busy peeping into the neighbouring BMW at the female in the driver’s seat.

In the auto rickshaw’s passenger seat was a young man. He was sitting upright, his laptop bag beside him and his blackberry phone in hand. Traffic signals always made him uncomfortable. The minute the vehicle stopped, he knew he would be accosted by beggars. And they would start touching him with their grubby hands, crocodile tears running down their hollow faces. And he would be forced to give them a rupee or two just so that they would go away and leave him alone.

He noticed the little girl speeding towards him. She was gaining ground rapidly. Her face was filled with determination. She didn’t have that wretched pitiable look that beggars deliberately put on to invoke sympathy. He shifted in his seat and clutched his phone tightly. She could be one of those traffic signal thieves who quickly snatch your belongings just as the signal turned green. He held his laptop bag on his lap. She was running towards him now. He stiffened and held on to his belongings so tight, his knuckles started turning white. He braced himself for some kind of impact.

The signal was about to change and the vehicles began honking. Just as the rickshaw driver stepped on the accelerator, the little girl jumped, reached for the silver air horn and pressed it with all her might!

“Pommmp! Pommmp!

The horn bellowed noisily!

The girl clapped her hands and squealed in glee! Giggling and skipping she dodged between the moving cars and made her way back to her father, ignoring the irritated abuses of the auto driver.

The young passenger breathed a sign of relief and loosened up. When the irony of what had happened sunk in, he began laughing. He laughed and laughed until the rickshaw driver turned back, and seeing him started laughing too!

Back at the signal, the girl went back to her begging. She tried her best to look forlorn, but she just couldn’t wipe that smile off her face!


lizard_king said...

hey! :) thanks for the comment... im not a regular here on blogspot. Im on xanga...

so sup with u?... i like ur style of writing... tasteful, and softly brutal.

pebble said...

haha cool~!!

Gulzar said...

I love the tempo of your writing...its so intriguing...
a mystery to read you and your writings...