Me and my friend were returning to college after spending forty bucks on each parantha we ate at “Darbar”. There is a street named “Sheeshe Wali Gali” on our way back to college. We suddenly saw a girl who was sitting somewhere by the roadside there. Actually, I will not call her a girl because she was an exception amongst the normal girls. Generally, when girls of her age play with Barbies, she was holding a bowl in her hand and begging. Yes, she was a child beggar, particularly a girl child beggar.
Back then, I was planning to write an article on child begging for the upcoming issue of my college magazine. So I got happy after seeing her because I thought interacting with her might help me in writing my article. So I sat on the floor with her. And the first thing I did was asking her name. To my surprise, she uttered “Karishma Kapoor”. I wondered if this really was her name or someone taught her. Whatever the case may be, me and my friend found it cute, so we giggled and I pull her cheeks(mind you unlike other kids of her age, her cheeks were rough as cactus).
The next thing I asked her was why she doesn’t go to school. She in her Bihari accent said, “Dadi maarti hai agar paise na lao toh(my grandma beats me if don’t collect money by begging)”. That one line was good enough to make my friend and me emotional. My friend asked her to call on the number 100, but I wondered how could she even manage to make a phone call. Unfortunately, on that day neither me nor my friend had a single penny after eating those delicious paranthas to give her. We said sorry to her.
Despite this, what I realized was that she lost her childhood to such an extent that she had no facial expressions while interacting with us. She was just giving us answers to the questions we asked by keeping the same numb expression throughout the conversation. Maybe she is used to it. I mean daily someone must be asking her about her life and like us return to their so-called normal life.
Today when I think of her, I wonder what an amazing girl she is. Away from the chaos of normal life, peacefully doing her assigned job without any hesitation, any shame. And I feel pity for me, not for her. That despite having every necessity, I am still greedy sometimes and complain about my life. She is not less fortunate, I am. She is blessed, and I am cursed. Cursed to live a fake life. I really wish her destiny becomes like the Karishma Kapoor every Indian know.
But my restless mind still keeps on asking me, “What can you do with whatever little you have to make life better for the Karishma Kapoors of this world?”
I don’t have an answer yet. Do you?