I’m experimenting with this short story series, publishing one episode every Thursday, until I feel that my characters have reached their blissful state! (Just kidding! I may go all GOT in the middle of the story) 🙂
Any who, please read and enjoy, and leave your comments.
Happy reading! 🙂 🙂
The street in front of the techpark was always bustling with people. Those streets never knew a silent moment. Even at night, the roads would be filled with traffic; car drivers honking angrily at the pedestrians who cross the road, oblivious to their surroundings, chirping happily over the phone.
Vendors sold tea, coffee, fruits and freshly fried snacks in their wagon wheeled stalls. Daily wage workers, students, rickshaw drivers, students and techies in their finest formal, would gather by the stalls, chat up and munch on snacks whilst sipping their coffee. Their restless eyes darting across the street, as if searching for something; something interesting to hold their gaze. But in vain!
A little girl, wearing an undersized pink frock bordered with golden frills scurries past them, carrying a half empty bottle of jam. She half walks and runs on her little two bare feet, her hair is tied up in a messy pony. Her eyes shine of excitement, eager to unravel the latest discovery to her friends who’d be delighted as much as she was, for they wouldn’t have to go to bed with an empty stomach. Today, they would feast on jam!
Her name was Rani. Although, that wasn’t her real name. She had worn the same Rani pink dress, when she was found crying on the corner of a street by two teenage boys on an early Sunday morning five years ago. It was the month of December, and the year had ended terribly. The city would never forget the rage of the oceans whose waves drowned half the city, obliterating everything that stood in its path. The tsunami that came with several jolts of earthquakes and aftershocks had wrecked the city causing irreparable damage. People were buried alive or drowned underwater; the ones who survived had been separated from their families in the impending chaos!
Rani is now 8 or 10, she remembers neither her age nor her name. The memory of her parents, was now a blurry haze in her mind. She didn’t believe she had a family much like all the other kids with whom she lived. Their parents were either dead or had abandoned them. The kids were wanderers, they never lived in a single city and didn’t rely on one job to make their living. It was a family that provided for each other and protected one another, they were pretty dysfunctional as there was no elderly person to discipline them. One could almost relate them to the lost boys, that survived by begging for food and money, or doing petty jobs that came their way.
A few older kids occasionally relied on stealing. In crowded buses, they would sneak away wallets, watches, money, phones, anything that seemed worthy. A few times, they were caught red handed while stealing items and had been beaten up black and blue. Even with all the trouble, they’d keep going at it because it was easy money, and survival was tough.
On good days, they could afford a decent meal or two, but on other days, they lived on the food found in the trash can. Old bread, rotten fruits, and on some lucky days, they’d even find dried out pizzas.
Rani was one of the youngest girls in the group. She and a few other kids would split up at a traffic signal and sell tiny plastic toys, pens, or large balloons. On days when she’d earned well, the older kids would allow her to accompany them to the bigger, crowded junctions and signals of the city, where she would beg for money. She’d tap on car windows, peeping through them, or tug at the clothes of bike riders. She was persistent until they gave her money. She wouldn’t give up, even when the drivers insulted and mocked her, when she was treated like trash, she wouldn’t budge, even when the signal turned green.
Once they made eye contact, she knew she could reel them in. The older kids had taught her that. It wasn’t just about the money, it wasn’t just about begging. They had what she didn’t have. They had a decent life, money, a roof over their heads when they went to sleep, but mostly a family. They had parents, they had known what it was like to have a childhood, with someone watching over you, someone who was there for you, someone who would sing lullabies and cradle you to sleep, someone who would feed you, and took care of you needs. Someone who would put up with your tantrums, and heal your wounds, every time you fell. Most of them had parents, that she was deprived off. She was envious of the world that didn’t take her in.
It was always fun and frolic, along with the other kids. They had no adults to discipline them, no lights off and bed time. They didn’t know any rules and regulations, and that kind of freedom was addictive. The kids didn’t have an education, although few of them had attended school for a few weeks when a school teacher had found them one day begging on the road. She had persuaded them to come to her classes, in the local govt. school where she worked. They’d dropped off soon as the discipline and homework started catching up with them.
Rani wanted to learn how to read and write. She had picked up a few words in English from one of the girls who had survived school for a while. Rani would take any opportunity to practise her skill. She’d read billboard signs, old newspapers, pamphlets stuck to the walls. At night, she’d recall and write down the new words that she learnt that day. She’d write on pieces of papers and walls. She hoped that one day she’d go to school and get a real job and drive around the city in a car, like the ones she’d seen on signals.
to be continued…