The Beggar

One of my happy memories is that of a beggar. We were all kids about 10 to 15 years old. A bunch playing football in the yard of a neighbor at the end of the street. It was so much fun, dodging (my favorite), chasing, running. At that time a beggar boy about 12ish (?) came and stood at the gate. My friend P’s mom being a kind hearted woman asked the boy if he would like to eat something. The boy said no, he does not want food, wants to play. The sweet woman said in that case come on in and play. So for the next hour or so, the boy played football with us. At the end of the game he walked away without much ado. It is the kindness shown by my friend’s mom, a new knowledge that poor people don’t always need what you think they need and the fun of the game and friends (and possibly many other things, everything is multidimensional whether you can see them all or not) that makes it such a happy memory.

(As always comments are appreciated)

Recently I asked one of my students to use dh instead of th becasue it makes people smile (in Gujarati the two letters look similar and confusing), she said dhankyu

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I asked her how old was she, she said some ridiculous number like 15 or 16, she did not appear to be more than 12 to me. I hated the idea of having someone so young to do household work at my home. I needed someone as most of my time and energy were needed to care for my infant son. If I did not employ Spunky (on yeah, she has so much spunk, I love spunky kids), someone less charitable would employ her, I would be an idiot to lose a nice girl like her. So I employed her at my home. As an atonement to my sin (sin or no sin I would have always done that) I told her my house did not need cleaning everyday, so alternate days she need not work, I shall teach her basic reading writing and number skills. She was quite an enthusiastic student, she insisted that she will spend an extra hour, do her work everyday and also study. I got books for her, with nice little rhymes and we started off. She learnt quite a bit. One day she proudly told me, “now my village people bring their letters to me for reading”, my proud little Spunky.  She taught me a lot about her village and the mentality of villagers.

A traditional masseur “B” from village used to come everyday to give a massage to my 3-4 months old baby, she needed the work and I liked the idea. Spunky told me that B has 9 children (quite likely all illiterate). She told me that in the village, people keep on having children because a house with more sons is perceived to be more powerful (especially when it comes to blows), that most houses had 7 to 10 kids, even when they did not have resources to feed them, that her parents were not like that, they were two siblings, a brother and her.

She would always come back to me with a ready retort when she disagreed with me, I loved that so much and hence the name Spunky. She was terrified of entering a house which was occupied by a single man. I could see that on her face. I often had to be inside when she came, she would enter my room with trepidation and then her face would relax and break into a smile on seeing me.  To put her at ease, I started referring to my husband as “your brother” to her, she liked it and loosened up a bit. I became her sis-in-law. One day I took her shopping with me to the city. The “city” was about 10 kilometers from the village in which my institute was located. In her little 12ish year old life, she had not been there. I asked her to get something for herself, she bought a plastic lunchbox for her brother. We got late getting back, so G went to drop her to her village. G loves authentic villages and authentic people and enjoyed the trip.

So many villages in India and so many Spunky kids. They need nutrition, education and affection.