A humid summer afternoon had given way to a gentle breezy evening in
And that was when I spotted her.
She was barely 7 years old, wearing a white frock with pink roses delicately embroidered all over. Her chubby cheeks pointed to a love for food. Tightly clutching on to her dad’s hand, she was inspecting the options that lay sprawled out in front of her. What should she indulge herself in? Of course, the evening must start with that puchka-waala bhaiya (the vendor selling paani puris).
As I took the first sip from my cup of tea, I was captivated with her innocence as I observed the little angel leading her dad to the puchka vendor. She greedily eyed the fellow as he readied the preparation of potatoes, salt and chilli powder along with imli paani (tamarind water) which would be used to fill the puchkas. Taking hold of the leaf-cup from the vendor (after a struggle with her dad who unsuccessfully tried to explain to her that he would be able to handle the cup more stably), her eyes lit up with every puchka that was placed in her cup. Madam Greedy Guts would then gingerly pick up the puchka, her hands trembling with anticipation. She would proceed to take a bite and more often than not, the puchka was too big for her little mouth and the water would stream down her cheeks. She didn’t seem to mind at all as she gleefully looked up at her dad, who acknowledged the feeling with a smile.
Three puchkas later, it was time to move on to ice creams. As I ordered another cup of tea, she had decided she wanted a chocolate ice cream. Her father paid for the ice cream, and madam wrapped her little fingers around the treasure-cup holding the very substance that made up heaven. As she passed by, she looked up and with a cherubic smile told the tea stall vendor, “Kaaku, singhara kaal ke khaabo” (Uncle, I’ll have the samosas tomorrow). The ageing tea-stall vendor beamed back at her.
As I walked back home, I was wondering what purpose kids serve. Of course, procreation and all that nonsense about taking civilization ahead to survive another generation. But what that little girl taught me was the simplicity of man’s needs. Not 15 rupees (little less than 30 cents) had been spent on her outing, and yet she had had the time of her life.
Man’s needs are simpler than what the grown-up buffoon makes it out to be. It is the attitude that matters.