He should be close to three years old. His name is Mouli. He cannot keep still at a place. He is not scared of strangers. He has indefinite energy!
He ran across the intercity train compartment defying the mother who kept screaming his name trying to hold him back. He chose his favourite passenger and climbed into their lap like it is his own throne and he is entitled to it. He watched the scenes on their screens, ate the biscuits they had if he liked them, spoke gibberish and ran away when he pleased.
He became favourite to many in the coach including me, his name resounding from his mother every five minutes. The poor female had another wailing little girl on her lap. Her worry for the child was of concern. But she gave all of us a big ‘little’ reason to smile.
Some people can hold you off guard with their potential. Some with their smile. The train supplier did both. A supplier from the southern railways pantry was on his best, selling one eatable after another from the time the train cranked up its engine for yet another journey. The train shuttles endlessly from Coimbatore to Chennai with little rest and so does this brother on the train.
We got a samosa and cutlet first because sometimes our appetite can be insatiable on a boring long chair car journey. We then bought biscuits, bread omelet and tomato soup (I drank two; I can never resist tomato soup). We walked four coaches to get to the pantry for Tomato soup and had a tedious journey back, dodging people and spilling food; thinking how swiftly these pantry suppliers walk across the giant caterpillar. I remember calling caterpillars as “train poochi” as a small child. Most of us knew them by that name! By the way, poochi is the Tamil word for insect.
This man, came on his…. (I don’t want to fathom counting his rounds with the delicacies on his shoulder). “Masal Dhosai, Soodana Masal Dhosai,” he announced tempting our south Indian taste buds. Seeing us look at each other’s face, he came over. I said I will take it later as I have dumped too much into my stomach already.
“What did you eat that much? A samosa, a cutlet, some Choco Fill biscuits; and I saw you carrying soup from the pantry. That’s not much. Eat. Young girls must eat well,” he said smiling into my super astonished face. He would have sold so much to so many people, how did he remember what he gave me? I didn’t notice that I bought them all from him or in his presence!
He let out a small laugh at my widened eyes and moved forward, “Masal Dhosai, Hot-ah Masal Dhosai.”
When your grandmother falls sick and you stay back day and night to take care of her, you barely sleep, the hospital smell makes you flinch. But you know she needs you the way you needed her as a child.
You speak to her of matters in other cities. “Paati, you know Chennai is flooded now. They had horrible rains this year.” You have to divert her from thinking about the pain.
You help her walk, you make her laugh, you help her wash herself, drape the sari around her and comb her hair into a bun. She asks you to feed her. She calls you to her bed and whispers in your ears discreetly (though there is no one in the room) asking for Pakkoda, an oily hot snack.
She knows she cannot manage it to the bathroom without your hand, but feels bad to wake you up. She loves you. She wants you to sleep. You love her too. You sleep lightly because you are always conscious about her. Hearing the metal of her walker, you wake up and hold her up scolding her for not waking you up.
The world is beautiful in the way it bonds two souls. Even in pain, it shows you some eternal beauty!
My friend and I were going around a shopping street busily searching for a good sari for her. It was quite late in the evening and restlessness set in. We parked the car at a private parking lot and tried a Boutique on the busy road. We took the car out after a commotion for paying the parking tickets and zoomed out. “God, I should get home before mom gets home!” this is a prayer every young adult in India would mutter very often.
I received a call on my mobile and my friend took it. The person on the other end introduced himself to be the watchman of the parking lot we just left. And he had my wallet in his hand.
Foolish me! I did not notice my clutch dropping to the ground in my never ending hurry.
The kind man had found my number from a dry cleaner’s receipt slip. He laughed at me when I went back. He said, “Check pannikko ma,” asking me to check if everything was there.
I smiled at him. I said thank you.
Some honest men, can change the way you feel. They can show you how beautiful this world is.