Was talking a walk along Brigades when I felt someone tug my handbag. I looked back or rather down to see a familiar face. Curly unruly hair, large eyes, a grubby face and a ragged frock. I smiled and took out my purse to buy the ‘gajra’ that she was selling. As every time, I try to return the garland and ask her to keep the money. Both of us know that with short hair, I would just throw the gajra in the nearest dust bin. As every time, I feel guilty that I am encouraging her to beg.(and I guess it is a kind of begging).
This time she hesitates and I am surprised. She says ‘Paisa chahiye. School bag kharidna hai’. It is my turn to hesitate. Should I? Give a lot of money to a kid? I refuse. The eyes that were looking so beguilingly at me suddenly shoot sparks. She gets angry. I tell her I will get her an old bag but she insists she wants the money. I refuse and walk away. I turn over my shoulder and look back. She is standing at the same spot, tears welled up in those large eyes, tiny fingers clutching the gajras.
I walk back. She looks at me expectantly. I turn for a second as a man jostles past me. But before I recover, she spits at me. Not once, twice. And runs away. Nobody seems to notice anything. But I coudnt help shivering.