The street lights coming up during twilight made the effect of setting sun even more surreal than ignorantly blissful souls are sometimes prone to believe. Cars, buses and bikes whizzing past told a different story though, that of a week-day still alive with people — some like myself, returning home, some in a mad rush to report to their work-benches on time.
At the other end, it was the start of an evening that I had planned for. Everything had gone well enough till now and goings-on also promised for better tidings as after a long time I was returning home by 7, pretty early these days. Office had been good, although I hadn’t achieved to my satisfaction out of the day, it wasn’t as lost as I would’ve termed it to be otherwise.
As I prefer to do quite often, dedicating some time everyday to some activity that doesn’t add up; here I decided to invest a moment at the florist’s and buy some flowers myself. It was then that I spotted this beautiful family of three, the couple and their lovely little daughter. They all looked relaxed and were having great fun in each other’s company, seemed like they were having this kind of outing after a long while. And this girl, who mustn’t have been more then four years old, was restlessly pacing up and down dressed in her tees, checked trunks and casual floaters, between their parked car and the counter while the bouquet that her father had ordered was being prepared, actively suggesting the flowers and colours to the shopkeeper.
It must have been either the birthday of the lady or they must be going to their friend’s, doesn’t matter here, but the girl was restive, in a strange sort of hurry, and she looked like being on a mission… The kind of determination that is seen only when they are hard at play or craving for something they badly want, no amount of persuasion or reasoning can deter them. She showed all the right signs of being up to something big for her age.
I thought that spending some more time there wouldn’t at all be a waste and so I lingered on. As the bouquet got ready and while the couple was immersed in some precious chirp not knowing it was time to move, came the moment of truth. The little girl promptly took the completed bouquet from the florist’s hands (almost snatched it) and opened her sweaty right palm, to pay up — it had two 2 Rupee coins, wet, pure and shiny… that’s all she had, she wanted to pay for that set with her own money, then grab the flowers and surprise her mother I guess.
The florist stood bewildered for a moment, but came back at once and tried to make a jovial event out of this, feigning seriousness, and told the girl that the cost is 170, and she has only 4 Rupees.
All of 4 or 5 years of age, she was playing her part in all sincerity oblivious to the factual difference between the asked price and her actual savings, and the florist’s playful yet theatrical reaction was enough to tell her that the money she had wasn’t ample by a long mile. She was getting impatient and confused by the minute, and once more tried in vain to settle it by offering the same coins, again, glanced sheepishly at her parents — who were still deep in their conversation — may be praying for success in cracking the deal before they wake up to the reality.
When the second attempt failed too, the disappointment was writ large on her face and boy! Does it break a heart to see a kid lost and on the verge of losing hope… Suddenly the pleasant evening rapidly transmogrified into a dark night of gloom – literally. It sure did, and I couldn’t hold myself back from alerting the father.
Thankfully, the gent quickly pictured what all was going on there and decided to end it the only way it should have. He gestured to the boy to accept the coins moving towards him, paid up the balance, while his little precious was seen running towards her mother with springs in her steps as if she had conquered the world — sure she had; unaware of the external help she had received in this endeavour. Grown ups call it luck…
I reckon this must have been that girl’s first real purchase on her own. And it must have definitely been very emotional for the mother as and when she’d have heard about this incident.
Just a quarter of an hour ago I didn’t even know these folks, I still don’t know them in the worldly sense, however, this event did bring me closer to them, more so to that proud little girl. I guess I felt as elated, as successful — if not more — as she did when she ran with those flowers in hand and the widest, the most radiant smile adorned her divine face.
I further understood what Lao meant when he said “Be a child, be a man.”
It’s about being pure, ignorant yet alert to the surroundings, thinking big in small, being content in the present, not thinking too far ahead and about being spontaneous, more importantly, not losing hope, even if it’s considered stubbornness by very many.
We keep thinking big, but always hold back from taking that final (or first?) step for the fear of possible implications and dreaded insecurities. We get those bouquets alright, but never fail to compare those with what others have.
May be the child within needs to be awakened and relived, then only we’d be able to make sense out of all the ‘non-senses’ that we have created and trained ourselves to almost perfection for each other’s petty conveniences.
I came back that evening at least 4 years younger, happier. 🙂