Sometimes it’s good to discard the option of choosing a luxury and opt for the simpler version of life.
I once decided to take a rikshaw over my car to reach the metro station. Luckily! At first I was apprehensive of this choice because of the scorching summer heat, but then I just let it be.
There were already four people (two men and two little children) seated in the rikshaw, and there was just enough space for me to grab a corner.
After 3 minutes, the two men got down and it was just the two children with me. This made me a little uneasy.
I asked the older girl whom she was with.
“Papa,” she gave an innocent smile.
“Oh, so he is your papa?” I asked her pointing at the driver.
She nodded and continued smiling.
I smiled back.
I couldn’t resist the temptation to talk to her. So after a minute I asked pointing towards the other child, “Is he your little brother?”
She nodded again with her innocent smile.
I looked into the eyes of the little boy and gave him a smile. He didn’t smile back. Then he looked at his sister (perhaps to make sure if he was allowed to smile back at a stranger) and saw her smiling at me. This made him give me back a smile. I was a little relieved.
“Kya naam hai?” I asked in a child-like mimic.
The little boy didn’t reply. His sister said,”Prince.”
“Bade bhaiya ka Deepak,” she added.
“Okay…” I touched her cheek.
I wanted to give them chocolates. I juggled through the contents of my bag and found a half-full packet of chips.
“Ye loge?” I asked the little girl.
She refused. It was a little unexpected. I was wont to believing that poor children fancy these “delicacies”; candies and colorful packets of chips attract them. I was wrong.
I asked the little boy. He was about to refuse but he looked at his sister. She gave a little nod.
The little brother accepted the packet after the consent of his elder sister. He took one or two chips perhaps, barely eating them.
The rikshaw halted for a while. The driver turned back and said heartily, “Bhaago!”
The children laughed and got down the rikshaw. The boy had left the packet on the seat and ran screaming, “Maa..”
I saw them running towards a truck. It was the water tank truck.
A plethora of ladies had flocked around the water outlet with a bucket in their hands. Not all of them were carrying buckets. Some had huge utensils, while the other, used paint buckets.
I saw their mother struggling to reach the water outlet to fill her bucket.
I had realised a big thing that day. Candies or packets of chips are not delicacies or luxuries for the poor. It’s the basic necessities of life. Water, food, and perhaps a roof above their heads; this is all what comes in their definition of “luxury”. Something which we fail to know.