Just the other day, a little girl walked past me as I stood on the bus stop. Big eyes, tussled and dry hair, shabby, torn clothes. She was a picture of poverty and misfortune. People moved away as they saw her at a distance. Our usual reaction when we see beggars. Except, that she wasn’t one.
Her tiny hands were not asking for money. Her eyes were just searching and scanning everywhere.
I was amused and my eyes started following her. She kept picking up little knickknacks that she could find. Empty crushed bottles, cola cans, cardboard boxes, coconut shells. She kept stuffing her sack with all she could find. Then with a victory smile on her face, she scurried away.
My eyes kept following her. She walked to a scrap shop and emptied the bag in front of him. With a disgusted look he threw a five rupee coin at her, she still kept smiling. I was amazed at the spirit of this little girl.
What I saw next was truly touching.
She trotted to a flower vendor and bought some flowers from him. With her tiny fingers she stringed together the flowers, then wrapped it in a newspaper fallen on the street and carefully tied a string around it. I couldn’t help my anxiety anymore. So, I rushed to her before she trotted away again and asked her what she was going to do with that little packet in her hand.
She smiled at me and told me that it was her mother’s favorite flower. She wanted to give it to her. “Is it her birthday?” I asked. She looked at me puzzled, like I had asked her to solve some math problem. I changed my question. “What’s the reason that you are giving these your mother?” I asked. The puzzled expression now changed to a surprise. She mumbled, “My mother loves me, cleans me and takes care of me and my brother. I get some money for all the scrap that I sell. But my mother gets nothing for spending the whole day and night taking care of the family. She did so yesterday; she did so today and continues to do so every day.
So I buy these flowers for her every day, to bring a little fragrance in her life that will make her feel good, and say thank you to her for loving us so unconditionally.”
I stood there dumbstruck and touched. The screech of the bus that arrived, jerked me back to my senses. The little girl vanished behind the cloud of dust, but in my thoughts she remained. She pushed me into recalling the last time I had expressed myself so unconditionally. Alas, it’s one question that would make many of us uncomfortable and maybe, just maybe, appreciate the efforts of our loved ones time and again.