It was a cool breezy evening.The blue bike was making its way through the traffic. He was happy. His daughter was clinging to his back with her little arms wrapped tightly around him. The signal was red now. The bike stopped and he turned back to look at her face. He tugged the windwept hair out of her face. He looked at her eyes. He always liked her eyes. Those innocent beautiful black eyes.He smiled. He turned around just in time to feel something tugging his left leg. He bent down to see the reason.
It was a small girl - probably six or seven. The girl was wearing a faded pink skirt patched up at so many places that the skirt no longer was pink. Her hair was put up in the back with little or no traces of oil. Her bare feet were pitch dark filled with dirt. There was a calculative glance in her eyes. They quickly were darting between his bike, another red car with a lady driver, a bike with a couple and another bike with a typical 4 member family scooching in. She tugged at his pants and said again "Sir, paisa".
He looked at her eyes. She had the same black eyes.
He closed his eyes.
It was that hot summer day.The bike was coming fast. He was sitting on the back of the bike with his eyes aimlessly observing the traffic on the roads. He was already late for his interview which was scheduled at half past ten. It was his seventeenth interview in that recession time and he desperately needed the job to atleast start paying his educational loan. The signal was red now. The bike stopped and he leaned in to ask the time to his friend. It was already ten fifteen. He felt something tugging his left leg. He bent down to see the reason.
It was a small girl.She tugged at his pants and said "Anna, paisa..."
Normally on occasions like these, he never gives alms. He vehemently opposes the concept of begging, especially to people who are not physically challenged. He believed that everyone has to do their part of charity in the world but it has to be done with a proper purpose and in a way that ensures that the help reaches the real needy. But this little girl was something different. Those big eyes dint just potray the urgency of the normal 'traffic signal beggars'. It had that inexplicable innocence hidden somewhere which was desperately trying to fight its way out. She was tugging at his pants again "Anna..paisa"
He reached for his purse. His friend said " All fraud da. Its a way for her parents to sit and eat. Don't fall for it ". He stopped, turned and asked "Unga amma enga?" (Where is your mother?)The girl pointed her hands towards the dark corner and said "Anga Saar" (There Sir) He got down the bike and took the little girl's palms and urged her to lead the way. She was scared now. She started to wriggle out of his grip and go to other people waiting in the signal "Vidu Saar. Amma thittum." (Leave Sir. Mother will scold)The guy was firm and though he was hopelessly late for his interview, he wanted to see the parents who were responsible for this little girl's fate. He was visibly angry at them for making girls of that age to beg for alms . He was now dragging the half scared-half crying girl to the corner she had shown.
It was just the starting point of the dark alley that began after the bus stop. The guy went till the corporation dust bin that marked the start of the alley. He threatened the girl that he would take her to the police if she dint show her parents. Then a voice came from the depth "Yaaru Saar? Yaaru?"(Who is it Sir?Who?). A very old lady was lying behind the bin with three stray dogs at her side. She identified herself to be the grandmother of this girl and told the irate guy that the mother had died five years back from an accident at the very same signal and since then, this little girl was the means of survival for both of them. The guy was speechless. He gave a couple of ten rupee notes (which was all he had) to the little girl and started back to walk towards the signal. He turned back to look at the little girl and then the old lady mumbled "Vera engayaachum porandhrukalaam Saar indha ponnu". (She just could have been born some where else Sir..this girl...) He just gave a deep solemn look for a minute before turning and walking towards the signal.
He opened his eyes.
She watched as her dad grabbed the hand of that dirty girl and take her towards the other end of the road. She saw him talk to that girl and then take out his phone . He then took her by hand and got her back to his bike. She dint like the dirty girl at all. Her dad on the other hand, made the dirty girl sit on the front of the bike and started. She was wondering all the way that why her dad is acting so strange. 'He had her. Dint he? Why then he needs another girl. That too a dirty one.And where are they going?' . She saw her dad stop in front of some building. She was scared. She dint want her dad to leave her here. She held his hands tightly and dint let him go.He moved her palms with a "I will be back in a second sweetheart. Just remain seated here." He then went inside with that girl and talked to a lady who looked a lot like her english teacher. He then wrote something on a paper and finally came back. She went and hugged him tightly.She was so releieved to see that his dad has left that girl there itself. As they went outside the building, she slowly read the name on the board "Lord Hands Mercy Home". She dint understand what was happening but was happy that they were going home now. She tightly held on to him.
The little girl was screeching "Dad! I want to know how was I born. My friend told that a big bird drops us from the heaven. Really? Tell me! tell me! tell me! tell me! tell me! tell me!". He slowly opened his eyes and caught his little girl who was now leaning and playing on his shoulders from behind. He pulled her forward and looked at her eyes. He always liked her eyes.He smiled involuntarily. He wanted to tell the reason of her birth was something he did not do ten years back.Some thing that he did do today. That same some thing which made him adopt a female baby. Instead he just looked at his wife. They shared a contended smile.